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Sublime Smith steps up

By Matthew Sherry

Steven Smith’s stunning century rescued Australia on the opening day of the third Ashes Test at the WACA.

On a quick surface that looked great for batting, Michael Clarke - who like opposite number Alastair Cook is making a 100th format appearance - had no hesitation in choosing to bat.

Yet, despite David Warner's 60, England moved into a good position as two wickets apiece from Graeme Swann and Stuart Broad helped reduce the hosts to 143 for five.

Steven Smith moves towards a ton during an unbeaten innings that lifted Australia from 143 for five to 326 for six at stumps

After James Anderson ran out Chris Rogers with a direct hit, Broad had Shane Watson taken at slip before Clarke chipped Swann to midwicket on the stroke of lunch.

England came out fighting after the interval, too, as Swann had Warner caught at backward point cutting and Broad bounced George Bailey out cheaply.

But Smith and Brad Haddin found the perfect response thereafter, putting on a century stand as England toiled in 40-degree heat.

The tourists refused to give up and got their just rewards for their efforts when Ben Stokes ousted Haddin for 55, after which Smith and Mitchell Johnson – unbeaten on 104 and 39 respectively – saw Australia to the close on 326 for six.

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Evening Session

Watch highlights of the evening session when Steven Smith reached three figures

10.03am - STUMPS! Australia 326/6; Smith 104, Johnson 39 - Another breakthrough eludes England but what a fascinating day it has been. As always seems to be the case, tomorrow morning will be crucial.

9.48am - Johnson, now unbeaten on 27, is looking at ease alongside Haddin. England would love a breakthrough before the close.

9.32am - England immediately take the new ball. Will it make a difference?

9.19am - CENTURY! Smith (173b 12x4 2x6) - And he hasn't. A straight drive and powerful pull takes Smith to a quite superb hundred.

9.08am - Smith is into the 90s and, with Mitchell Johnson the new man, England will be scenting further breakthroughs. The former does not look like cracking so far...

8.47am - WICKET! Haddin c Anderson b Stokes 55; Australia 267/6 - And there it is! Ben Stokes sends down a short delivery and Haddin top-edges a pull straight to Anderson at midwicket.

8.39am - While the runs have dried up somewhat, England are still searching for a much-needed breakthrough. Haddin and Smith have played well and continue to frustrate.

8.19am - That will frustrate England! Haddin cuts a short-and-wide delivery high in the air and it falls between two fielders.

8.05am - FIFTY! Haddin (76b 5x4 2x6) - What a turnaround. Haddin endured such a struggle at the start of his innings and is now flying. He crunches Tim Bresnan down the ground for a big six and sees a skied attempt at a repeat fall safe, his subsequent two heralding a frustrating half-century for the tourists.

7.47am - James Anderson is the latest to fall foul of being too short to Smith, who swivel-pulls another to the rope.

7.41am - Brad Haddin and Steven Smith hit a boundary apiece as Australia continue their attack in the early stages of the final session.

7.30am - Let's hope Sarah Taylor's good news can rub off on her male counterparts. Huge session coming up here...

Afternoon Session 

Watch highlights of the afternoon session from the WACA

7.11am - TEA! Australia 220/5; Smith 58, Haddin 35 - Tim Bresnan ends the afternoon with an unthreatening over. That was a real session of two halves, Australia launching a fine recovery after the losses of Warner and Bailey.

7.08am - Just one over remaining before tea. How England could do with a strike now...

6.50am - FIFTY! Smith (76b 5x4 2x6) - Another powerful hook through midwicket brings Smith four more. He is looking in good nick now.

6.42am - That relieves the pressure a little; Smith confidently clips and pulls Stokes through midwicket for fours.

6.11am - Suddenly the run-rate, which was up around five an over for a while, is now under four. Broad is roughing up Brad Haddin, who is enjoying something of a renaissance in this series.

6.04am - England are drying the runs up nicely now, hoping the pressure will force further Australian mistakes. Smith, though, does break the shackles by pulling Broad through midwicket.

5.53am - WICKET! Bailey c Pietersen b Broad 7; Australia 143/5 - The short ball does for Bailey as he fails to get on top of a hook. His top-edge flies to deep square-leg, where Kevin Pietersen claims a difficult chance falling backwards.

5.46am - That's a fine stroke from George Bailey, who punches Stuart Broad for an off-side four off the back foot. 

5.35am - WICKET! Warner c Carberry b Swann 60; Australia 129/4 - And so it does! That's the wicket England so desperately wanted and it's a real gift as Warner cuts Swann straight to Michael Carberry at backward point.

5.30am - Both batsmen seem intent on attack, particularly against Swann. England will hope that aggression brings further breakthroughs.

5.22am - What a way to get off the mark! Steven Smith trots down the pitch and hammers Graeme Swann down the ground for six.

5.13am - FIFTY! Warner (57b 7x4 1x6) - A single to the off side takes David Warner to his half-century immediately after the restart.

Morning Session

Watch highlights of the morning session from the WACA

4:32am - LUNCH! Australia 107/3; Warner 49, Smith 0 - Stokes' over ends what has been an enthralling session. England will be fairly happy, although the wicket of Warner will be key in the afternoon.

4.22am - WICKET! Clarke c Cook b Swann 24; Australia 106/3 - Oh, what a HUGE wicket. England bring Swann on just before lunch and he strikes immediately as Clarke chips to short midwicket, where Alastair Cook takes a fine low catch.

4.13am - MISSED CHANCE! - It's harsh to even call it a chance. Warner powerfully pulls straight off Bresnan, who sticks out his left hand and parries a return chance. Later in the over, the opener drives another four through cover before hitting his first six with a swipe over midwicket.

3.58am - More off-side joy for Warner, who upper-cuts and drives Broad to the rope. Australia's run-rate is five an over.

3.53am - That's too easy for Clarke, who powerfully cover-drives a Ben Stokes full-toss to the fence.

3.45am - A couple of straight fours, in between which he inside-edged Bresnan on to his pad, have Clarke moving. Warner was lucky to survive as a wild attempt at an aerial stroke narrowly missed his edge.

3.38am - Interesting period here as England attempt to take the prized wicket of Michael Clarke. At the other end, Warner is looking in fine fettle once more and could well be just as important.

3.24am - WICKET! Watson c Swann b Broad 18; Australia 52/2 - That's a big breakthrough for England, who needed to slow Australia. Watson attempts an expansive drive, only for a thick edge to fly to Graeme Swann - who claims a stunning catch high at second slip.

3:11am - Boundaries aplenty coming now, Warner hitting two more off Anderson before Shane Watson cover-drives Tim Bresnan to the fence.

3am - That's a cracking stroke from Warner, who ends a spell of England piling on the pressure by straight-driving and swivel-pulling Broad for fours.

2.54am - Very fortunate for David Warner as he inside-edges Anderson, bowling round the wicket, on to his pad and just past the stumps. This is good, probing stuff from England.

2.41am - WICKET! Rogers run out Anderson 11; Australia 13/1 - Good bounce in evidence for Stuart Broad, as expected, but Chris Rogers responds with a couple of leg-side fours. His joy is shortlived, however, as Anderson produces brilliant direct hit from midwicket to give England a dream start!

2.35am - There was not much movement in evidence in the first over amid James Anderson conceding just two runs.

Pre-Play News 

2.27am - Not long to go now. The sub-plot of Cook v Clarke as they each reach a special century will be fascinating but, of course, this game's importance is biggest in the context of the series.

2.11am - Seems like Cook would have batted first too: 

2.02am - For those of you who do not have England's team from Adelaide lodged in your memory...

1.59am - AUSTRALIA WIN TOSS & BAT - The hosts have certainly been on the right side of the coin-flips thus far and so it proves once more. Cook calls incorrectly and Australia will make first use of the surface. The big news for Australia is Ryan Harris being available.

1.55am - We're just five minutes away from the toss...

1.39am - Of course, this encounter is special as it's England skipper Alastair Cook's 100th (it is also opposite number Michael Clarke's). He and England will once again face an examination by pace and bounce on a surface that is traditionally the world's fastest. To see what Cook had to say yesterday, click here.

1.30am - Hello everybody! Welcome to our live coverage of the third Ashes Test between Australia and England. It's make-or-break time for the tourists, who find themselves 2-0 down as they aim to retain the little urn.

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