It was a rare day of success for Australia this Ashes series but they will know there’s plenty of work ahead for them in the third Test against England at Old Trafford. We’ll have live scores and commentary starting from 8.00pm AEST.
It started with Australia winning the toss and then batting as well as one has seen them bat in a long time to end the day on 3/303 with captain Michael Clarke unbeaten on his 24th Test match century.
The inherent worry for tourists right from before the start of this series was their over-dependence on their captain with the bat.
To an extent it was proved true in the first couple of games, where he failed to score too many and the batting withered away very easily.
Fortunately for Australia, things changed for the better on the first day at Old Trafford.
Not only did Clarke regain that form which had made him a difficult batsman to bowl at in the last 18 months or so, there were also two other very valuable contributions from the top-order that erased few of their woeful batting memories from the recent past.
Chris Rogers, who had admitted recently he was trying too hard, played with the freedom usually associated with his opening partner Shane Watson.
The only different was that he managed to convert that quick-fire start into something more substantial than what Watson has made all season.
Usman Khawaja’s dismissal was the talking point of the day and could well have exploded into a morale-puncher for Australia had it not been for Clarke and Smith.
When Khawaja and Rogers fell, an all-too-familiar collapse seemed looming large but the pair stalled any such repeat performances.
Clarke went on to get to a chance-less 125 while Smith might have been lucky on a couple of occasions with the DRS but he played an equally matured hand of 70.
Both will resume their innings tomorrow with the first couple of sessions being very important from the game’s perspective.
Another oft-seen collapse could still leave Australia with a decent score but batting second time around will be a difficult job.
Signs are the pitch will take more and more turn as we reach the fourth day and the visitors will need to aim at batting only once.
England bowled well in patches. There were times in the day when Graeme Swann looked unplayable, there were other occasions when Stuart Broad produced that difficult delivery but Australia did well to survive it all.
James Anderson did not have the best of times while Tim Bresnan was steady at best.
Their trouble stemmed from a combination of a rather flat track and a surprisingly good batting performance from the opponents.
Rest assured, come the second day, they will look to get their consistencies back and there’s a good chance captain Alastair Cook will set more defensive fields as well.
A third-man could be brought into place, at least till the time these two batsmen remain at the crease.
Follow the live score and blog of the second day’s play of the third Test from 8.00pm AEST. You can join me for this live blog and post your comments below.