Friday was really a day that had many ups and downs for both the teams as no one was able to grab that upper hand on a reasonably flat WACA track on the first day of the third Ashes test.
On a very usual hot and sunny day in Perth, the two centurions Alastair Cook and Michael Clarke came out for the the toss.
For the third consecutive time, the Aussie captain won it and chose to bat first. After a very expensive first over by Anderson, Broad started his 'expensive' first over, though much to Cook’s delight the breakthrough came by way of a direct hit by Anderson as Rogers fell short of his crease.
Watson and Warner then started to take the English bowlers on but as has been the case with Watson, he got out yet again after getting a start off Broad’s bowling as he tried to drive the wrong delivery, leaving Australia on 52/2.
In came the Aussie captain Clarke who thus far has been in confounding form. Runs came in quickly yet again as Bresnan and Broad were regularly attacked by Warner and the Aussie captain Swann, whose selection in the squad for this match was much criticised, struck in his first over.
It was Clarke who departed for 24 this time- the result of an outstanding catch by Cook- which left Australia in a spot of bother at the stroke of lunch as the bails were off soon with Australia at 107/3 with Smith and Warner at the crease.
What was needed for England was Warner’s wicket and what the home team needed was a partnership.
Warner continued to play well as he reached another half century but the hosts’ wish was fulfilled shortly after he raised his bat, as the left hander gave a catch yet again to backward point where Carberry took it easily.
At 129/4, Bailey was the new man, who so far in the series hasn’t been very good. His poor run continued as a short-pitched delivery fired at 143kph by Stuart Broad proved to be too hot to handle for the Tasmania man and the rest of the work was done by Pietersen who took a simple catch.
Haddin now marked his guard and camaraderie with runs this series is what we all know well. As soon as he came, much happened as Broad’s accurate short stuff was causing problems.
But, as they all say; don't overdo anything. This is exactly what happened though and overuse of the short pitched stuff started to backfire on England as Smith and Haddin now started to look settled.
They finally they started exploding and their partnership was worth 68 off just 87 deliveries and tea was taken when Australia were 220/5 and Smith too had reached a 50 which could be termed as exuberant.
Soon after tea, the 100-run partnership came up and so did Haddin’s fourth consecutive 50+ score. As Cook went back to the defensive mode, things got a lot quieter than they earlier had when Haddin had just entered play.
The result of course was one more wicket and this time it was the Australian wicket keeper who gave a catch straight to Anderson off a short delivery by Stokes and Australia were 267/6.
Very soon, Smith’s second test century was up and a terrific one as well because the lad had to cope up with immense pressure. More frustration awaited England in the form of Johnson yet again as he built a 50-run partnership along with Smith who remained quite throughout this stand.
Finally, it was stumps time and the day was a one that belonged equally to both the teams. Australia were 326/6 with Johnson 39* and Smith 103*. It will be interesting to see if England can now claw their way back into this Ashes before it's too late.
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