Cricket: Smith unbeaten on 59 as Australia reply to England's 294

LONDON (Reuters) – Steve Smith scored an unbeaten 59 as Australia built up a score of 147 for four by tea in reply to England’s first innings 294 on the second day of the final Ashes test on Friday. Smith built his innings steadily before lofting a Jack Leach ball for six over long on to bring up his half-century. It was his 10th consecutive 50 against England in tests, the most in a row by any batsmen against any other nation in the longest format of the game. Smith has now scored 730 runs in six innings, almost twice as many as any other batsman on either side in the series. England had wrestled with the conundrum of how to break the combination of Smith and Marnus Labuschagne for almost an hour after lunch before Jofra Archer made the breakthrough, catching Labuschagne out lbw on 48 with an inswinging ball. Sam Curran then claimed the wicket of Matthew Wade, out lbw for 19 runs, bringing Mitchell Marsh to the crease. Australia’s openers David Warner and Marcus Harris both fell early in the day to the fast bowling of England’s Archer for single-digit scores. Warner’s miserable series with the bat continued when, after picking up five runs, he got the slightest of touches on an Archer delivery as it flew through to wicketkeeper Jonny Bairstow. Warner is the first opening batsmen in test cricket to get out for eight single-digit scores in a series, with only one innings left to play to get his Ashes average into double figures. Archer claimed his second wicket soon after when Harris on three edged a ball to Ben Stokes at second slip. Earlier, England added just 23 runs to their overnight score of 271 before being bowled out, with Australia’s Marsh claiming his first five-wicket haul in test cricket. Australia are bidding to secure a 3-1 series victory after retaining the Ashes by winning the fourth test at Old Trafford, meaning England would at best only be able to draw the series 2-2.

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