Srinagar: Steve Smith, David Warner and Travis Head shined as Australia dominated the Day 1 of the second Ashes Test vs hosts England at Lords on Wednesday. Australia ended day 1 on 339/5.
David Warner (66), Travis Head (77) and Steve Smith (85*) all scored half-centuries on the opening day as Australia put some miles into the legs of England’s seam attack, with Ben Stokes having included an additional pace option rather than a spinner in his side to replace the recovering Moeen Ali.
That additional pacer was the pick of the quick bowlers for England on the day, with Josh Tongue removing both of the Australia openers with excellent deliveries and finishing with figures of 2/88.
But, on an overcast day, England’s bowling posed surprisingly few questions of an Australian top order who piled on the runs.
Two wickets in an over for Joe Root helped give England some hope late on, but it was Australia who enjoyed the best of a day that saw Smith reach 9000 Test runs in few innings than any previous Australian batter, and Nathan Lyon become only the sixth player ever to be selected in 100 consecutive Tests.
With plenty of cloud cover, rain not far away and a hint of green to the pitch, conditions seemed firmly in England’s favour as they won the toss and opted to bowl first.
But Australia’s openers played well through a session that saw two short rain delays and a pitch invasion by protesters curtail the number of overs bowled.
73 runs were added before lunch, with Usman Khawaja falling in the final over of the morning, with Josh Tongue making the breakthrough as he nipped one back to bowl the Aussie opener.
It was Tongue who picked up the second too, in a similar fashion, with David Warner beaten through the gate to depart for an excellent 66 from 80 balls.
But that brought Steve Smith to the crease alongside Marnus Labuschagne, and the pair made England work hard throughout the afternoon session as they picked off the loose balls and upped the scoring rate in a trick session for the home side.
A stand of 102 was broken after tea by Ollie Robinson, who denied Labuschagne a half-century with a wobble-seam delivery that the number three could only feather behind to Jonny Bairstow.
With no front-line spinner to turn to and Ben Stokes unable to bowl more than the occasional over, England’s pace bowlers struggled to stem the flow of runs toward the close, as Smith and Head built a sizeable first-innings platform.
Smith was at his daunting best, but it was Travis Head who really laid into England, reaching his half-century at quicker than a run-a-ball.
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Head looked set for a century, but went for 77 when he charged down the wicket and was stumped by Jonny Bairstow off Joe Root.
And Root picked up two wickets in an over to give England hope, with Cameron Green departing without scoring after slicing a shot to James Anderson in the deep.
England delayed taking the new ball, giving themselves just two overs with the fresh cherry to ensure it will still be in good condition when play resumes on Thursday, with more cloud and rain showers forecast in north London.
Smith passed 9000 Test runs during the course of his innings at Lord’s, doing so in 174 innings – the fastest that an Australian has reached the milestone. Only Kumar Sangakkara has reached the figure in fewer innings in the history of the game.