Ashes: Fourth Test Day 2: The moments that mattered

Usman Khawaja of Australia celebrate Century on during day two. Image: Izhar Khan

Usman Khawaja owned Day 2 at the SCG, delivering one of the feel-good moments of the Ashes summer and for Australian cricket when he brought up his ninth test century.

The rain again frustrated and interrupted play early in the day with multiple minor interruptions before clearing for nearly a full day’s cricket.

There were missed chances, interesting tactics, and injuries aplenty as the day wore on as England survived a late Mitchell Starc overstep to make it to stumps on Day 2 none down.

Here are the moments that mattered on Day 2 at the SCG:

Smith and Khawaja survive fast opening stanza before rain intervenes again

Resuming at 3-126, Steve Smith and Usman Khawaja set about building a big first-innings total for Australia after a shortened day’s play yesterday. Both resuming on single-figure scores, the opening stanza of the day served as an important tone-setter for the day.

Smith and Khawaja like batting together at the SCG and have made a habit of going big. The former state teammates have previously shared a 103 run partnership against Pakistan in 2017 and a 188 run partnership against England the following year.

They survived a probing Stuart Broad at one end and a rapid Mark Wood at the other end as the pair set themselves in in the opening half an hour of day two before the players were once again taken off the SCG for a brief rain delay.

Smith signaled his intent the first ball after the break, clobbering a straight drive from James Anderson back down the ground past him to the boundary for 4.

Usman Khawaja did the same with a reverse sweep off Jack Leach which also found the fence.

Stokes turns to Bodyline tactic as  England go searching

As he has for most of the series with the ball in hand, Ben Stokes has consistently banged the ball in on a short length in an attempt to be another point of difference in a very samey England seam attack.

Thrown the ball for his first spell of the day in the 19th over of the morning and immediately set a field for short pitch bowling with three fielders set on the boundary on the off side to Usman Khawaja. Searching to get Khawaja pulling and hooking, a shot which he does play and execute well to bring about his downfall and break the growing partnership.

Khawaja controlled a hook shot down to third man which brought the right-handed Smith on strike. The same field was set for Smith with three men back as Stokes continued his short ball tactic to both of Australia’s set batters.

Root drop, Stokes injury adds to England’s troubles as Smith raises his bat.

As England kept grinding away and searching for a breakthrough, a brief chance presented itself went begging. Usman Khawaja edged a ball off the bowling of Jack Leach and what looked like a regulation catch went down. Not once, but twice as the ball ricocheted off Jos Buttler’s gloves and went through Joe Root’s hands on the second attempt.

In a brief stroke of luck for England, the ball narrowly missed the helmet sitting on the ground behind Buttler. Had the ball hit the helmet it would have been five penalty runs to the home side but things got worse for England.

In the fourth over of his spell, Ben Stokes delivered his fifth ball and immediately clutched his side and grimaced and looked in considerable pain.  The star all-rounder who hasn’t been at 100% this series has constantly run in for England but it looked like this injury would get the better of him as he left the field immediately to seek treatment.

Mark Wood completed the over as Australia’s batters continued to rattle along and tick the scoreboard over with Steve Smith raising his bat for his half-century just prior to the Lunch break.

Stokes later returned to the field but didn’t bowl for the rest of the day

England burn review as bizarre five mins of Smith brings about his downfall

England took the second new ball as soon as they could to try and break the Smith/ Khawaja partnership.

True to form, the firm new Kookaburra ball was reacting off the still green-tinged SCG pitch alot differently to the older ball. Nipping back and around off the seam.

It led to a bizarre five-minute stretch of batting from Steve Smith. While we have become used to writing that sentence over the course of his career, he looked particularly out of sorts in the five-minute stretch which proved to be the final five minutes of his innings at the SCG.

At the start of the over, he began to look increasingly uncomfortable with the seam movement that Broad was generating with the new ball operating from the Paddington end. Making gestures with his hands with all the movements.

Moments later he left a ball cannon into his pads which England appealed for and duly referred. Replays showed it was going down the leg side and going over the stumps which was confirmed by ball tracking.

The next ball was on a fifth stump line which nibbled away from Smith’s outside edge. The next ball, pitched up, also angling away with steeper bounce than the previous ball.

The next ball, looking to strangle Smith down the leg side and caught at leg gully, Smith connected with a hook show which went down to the boundary for four. The final ball of the over, Broad found Smith’s outside edge which Buttler pouched behind the stumps. Gone for 67.

His dismissal brought Cameron Green to the centre who looked all at sea. He survived a chance where he edged through second and third slip to the boundary for four before nicking off again for a low first innings score.

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Carey throws away another golden chance

With time ticking away to the Tea break and both Khawaja and Carey scoring freely as the new ball got softer, Joe Root brought himself back on to bowl in tandem with Jack Leach, partially to try to quicken up the over rate and to try force a rash shot from the Australian batters.

The rash shot came from Alex Carey who on 13, skied a ball off Root, a half-assed cross bat hoik which was caught by Jonny Bairstow fielding on the wicket table close in.

After being in for close to 40 deliveries and only making the 13, it was another golden chance thrown away by Carey as questions continue to be asked about his modest first-class record and place in the Test side.

While he has been tidy behind the stumps this summer, there have been two occasions in each of the previous two matches where he hasn’t gone for what was the keeper’s catch. He is also still yet to take a stumping.

While it has mattered little, such has been Australia’s dominance this series so far, his form with the bat remains a talking point with every passing missed chance.

Usman celebrates return with comeback century.

When he walked to the wicket yesterday, the reception he received from the SCG crowd was heart-warming and comforting.

As he got closer and closer towards the three-figure milestone, the anticipation from the crowd was palpable. An SCG crowd already rising and riding every bump of Khawaja’s innings, were willing the 35-year-old on towards three figures right before the tea break.

As England looked to sneak more overs in before the scheduled break, Dawid Malan was brought on to bowl. Pat Cummins was on strike and smacked the part-timer back down the ground for consecutive boundaries. He set off for a single on the last ball of the over which drew the ire of the SCG crowd who only wanted to see one thing at that point in time with tea imminent.

Jack Leach came onto bowl the last over of the session at the Randwick end. Cummins blocked the first two balls before taking a single off the third ball to bring Khawaja on strike.

With a flick of the wrist off the pads, Khawaja set off for three runs to bring up a comeback century to thunderous applause and love from the SCG crowd and the millions watching around Australia.

He led his captain off at tea to chants of “Uzzie Uzzie Uzzie” ringing around the SCG in a spine-tingling moment.

Broad claims second five for down under as Khawaja vigil ends

Stuart Broad is one of England’s greatest seamers ever and at 35 years old, on Day 2 at the SCG gave us another reminder of his quality in what is surely the final stanza of his glittering England career.

He ran in all day for his skipper Joe Root, claiming two Australian wickets in the evening session to register a five-wicket haul for his efforts. His second in Australia.

And there was some DRS drama along the way to the milestone.

He claimed the wicket of Pat Cummins with a short ball which took off off a length and went through to Buttler. England went up for the appeal which wasn’t given out by umpire Paul Reiffel. After sending it upstairs for a review, Snicko registered a spike which meant the Australian captain was sent on his way.

Broad thought he had the wicket of Mitchell Starc when again, a short ball sailed through to Buttler, taking a deflection off what looked to be his wristband. It was given out on field but overturned on review with the replay showing it missed the wristband.

Broad claimed the milestone by ending Usman Khawaja’s long vigil at the crease, the left-hander chopping onto his stumps for 137.

Broad finished with figures of 5/101 off 29 overs.

Starc no-ball reprieves Crawley in probing 20 minutes before stumps

Australia declared late on Day 2 after amassing 8/413 in their first innings, giving England a nasty 20 minute period to survive before Stumps.

Pat Cummins took the first over to begin the short burst at the fragile England top order from the Randwick end with Mitchell Starc sharing the duties from the Paddington end.

Starc found the edge of Zak Crawley late in his second over which flew to David Warner at second slip. The SCG crowd erupted once again before replays on the big screen showed that Starc had overstepped and Crawley was given a life.

He got off the mark the next ball as England made it through to stumps without the loss of a wicket for 13 runs.

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