Steve Smith scored his second century in the first Ashes Test to help Australia dominate England on the fourth day at Edgbaston. In their bid to win the first series in England in 18 years, the team from down under set the home team a daunting target of 398 to win the inaugural Test as they declared their innings at 487/7.
Resuming the day’s play at 124/3, Smith, partnering Travis Head, gave the Tim Paine-led side a solid start. The duo went on to add 81 runs before Head fell short to a slower by Ben Stokes and edged it to the keeper behind. Joined by Mathew Wade, the comeback man rallied on to score his second century of the game before scripting a partnership of 126 runs with Wade.
Cover-driving England pacer Stuart Broad, Smith reached his 25th Test century with some style. With this ton, he also became the fifth Australian to make centuries in both innings of an Ashes Test. He continued with his onslaught after reaching the triple-figure mark as Wade also joined him in the party and completed his half-century in no time.
However, Smith’s party was cut short when he was batting at 142. The second new ball had done the trick for the hosts as they finally managed to got the Australian out from a measured out-swinger by Chris Woakes. Wade, on the other hand, seemed in no mood to let go of the opportunity he has received in this match. In a way, it was a comeback for him also as he was touring with Australia A before the series began. He went on to score his maiden Test century in two years.
Having lost Smith, he was joined by Australian skipper Tim Paine. The pair added 76 for the sixth before Wade fell victim to a shorter one from Joe Denly. The scoreboard read 407/6 and in another eight balls it became 408/7 as the captain was knocked off by Moeen Ali.
The England bowlers looked ordinary as the batsmen toyed with them throughout the day. The wicket-taking deliveries were tackled with perfection and Smith and Wade displayed the urgency in their approach to score runs. Ben Stokes was the pick of the bowlers as he returned with a figure of 3/22.
Tailenders James Pattinson and Pat Cummins played a gritty knock down the order to defy England the satisfaction of getting the visitors all-out. Pattinson and Cummins scored 47 and 26 respectively on their way to an 88-run stand for the eighth wicket. The lead was 2 short of 400 when Paine felt that was enough for his bowlers to defend and declared. However, the England openers made sure they don’t repeat the mistakes of first innings and played off the remaining day safely without losing a wicket. England stands at 13/0 at the stumps of the fourth day, requiring another 386 to win.