Pat Cummins
Pat Cummins celebrates taking the key wicket of England captain Joe Root in the fifth Ashes Test. Image by Darren England/AAP PHOTOS
  • cricket

Smith steps up, Aussies boast 152-run lead

Rob Forsaith January 15, 2022

Steve Smith has survived a testing examination under lights in Hobart, with Australia to resume on day three of the fifth Ashes Test with a 152-run lead and seven wickets in hand.

A total of 17 wickets fell on a frenetic Saturday, including a haul of 4-45 for Pat Cummins.

Smith’s exaggerated mannerisms and movements were full of even more energy than usual, reflecting his desperation to dig in after the hosts lost David Warner and Marnus Labuschagne early in their second dig.

Former skipper Smith, yet to score a hundred in the five-Test series, finished 17 not out after facing 37 deliveries.

“It’s not often Steve misses out twice in a Test,” Cummins said, referencing Smith’s first-innings duck.

“That was bloody tough conditions.

“He showed why he is right up there with the best in the world… he’ll be up for it tomorrow.

“There’s plenty of time left in the match. As many (runs) as we can get would be nice, I’d love to get close to (setting a target of) 300.”

Scott Boland fended off 25 balls, which included some drama when umpires denied the nightwatchman a visit from the team physio after being struck on the gloves in the day’s final over.

Usman Khawaja (11) was likewise watchful before falling victim to a nasty bouncer from Mark Wood, having taken 25 balls to get off the mark after Australia crashed to 2-5.

Not since 1978 have Australia been two wickets down for such a low score in both innings of a Test.

England’s attack, stretched by Ollie Robinson’s back spasm and with Ben Stokes unable to bowl because of his side strain, has given their side hope of salvaging a consolatory win in the series finale.

But Sunday will mark the third day in which they have been asked to steam in, having been given limited respite as Australia rolled the tourists for 188 in just 47.4 overs.

Robinson failed to bowl in Saturday’s first session, when Nathan Lyon’s free-wheeling knock of 31 lifted Australia to a first-innings total of 303, then delivered four overs at night.

Australia claimed a first-innings lead of 115 runs after Cummins, denied an SCG victory that would have kept alive his hopes of a series whitewash, prised out opposing captain Joe Root.

Cummins removed Root and Dawid Malan in quick succession during a collapse of 3-7 that also featured the key scalp of Stokes.

The hosts were far from clinical in the field.

No.8 Chris Woakes top-scored with 36 after being dropped on zero and five, with his first-ball reprieve coming when David Warner grassed a regulation chance at first slip.

Warner capped a dirty day by logging his second pair ever, undone by nemesis Stuart Broad for a third-ball duck.

Earlier, Cummins failed to review two caught-behind shouts, with replays indicating they represented missed chances to dismiss Malan and Rory Burns.

Neither moment prove costly, while the skipper made amends with a superb lbw dismissal of Root.

Cummins celebrated with gusto, punching the air, while Root shook his head and trudged off in scenes reflective of the manner in which Australia eased to an unassailable 3-0 lead in the five-Test series.