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Steve Smith's fairytale return continues with second century in first Ashes Test

Australia have taken control of the first Ashes Test thanks to centuries from Steve Smith and Matthew Wade at Edgbaston, where England will enter day five in survival mode as they confront a record chase of 398.

Smith's 142 and Wade's 110 were the highlights of a fourth day of dominance from Australia in Birmingham, where the visitors put themselves in the box seat for a comeback victory of epic proportions.

Tim Paine, whose quick-fire 34 compounded Joe Root's misery, eventually declared at 7-487 after forcing England to toil for 112 overs.

Nathan Lyon was handed the new ball and created some nervous moments but England survived seven tense overs to be 0-13 at stumps on Sunday.

Smith and Wade made the pitch look remarkably flat in a 126-run stand but Lyon should prove more potent and composed than counterpart Moeen Ali, whose figures of 2-130 included two no-balls for beamers.

Root's team will now most likely attempt to bat out the final day at Edgbaston, ensuring the series remains locked at 0-0 when the second Test starts at Lord's next week.

Showers were initially forecast for Monday but the latest update suggested there should be little rain to help the hosts.

England have only chased more than 300 to win an Ashes Test on two occasions, with their best effort being a target of 332 that was hauled in at the MCG in 1928.

That contest in Melbourne remains England's highest successful chase in Tests against any opposition, while the venue-record chase in Birmingham is South Africa's pursuit of 281 in 2008.

Smith swung momentum and England dropped their bundle on Sunday, fumbling in the field as pundits questioned Root's fields and his refusal to bowl Chris Woakes until after lunch.

Australia's Steven Smith plays a shot during day four of the first Ashes Test cricket match between England and Australia at Edgbaston in Birmingham, England, Sunday Aug. 4, 2019. (AP Photo/Rui Vieira)
Australia's Steven Smith plays a shot during day four of the first Ashes Test cricket match between England and Australia at Edgbaston Source: Associated Press

The introduction of the second new ball helped Woakes find Smith's edge to dismiss the former skipper with a bit of late swing.

But it continued to be a day of tiring toil for an attack that sorely missed injured spearhead Jimmy Anderson.

A freewheeling 47 not out from James Pattinson, who slapped a six back over the head of Stuart Broad in the penultimate over of Australia's second innings, further sapped morale before Paine called his batsmen in.

Pattinson, bowling first change after Peter Siddle and Lyon took the new ball, beat Jason Roy's bat with the final ball of the day.

Root earlier failed to seize a run-out chance when Smith was on 133, one of of few missteps from the superstar in a 207-ball stint at the crease.

Root will wonder where it all went wrong, having twice relinquishing the upper hand in the series opener.

The hosts reduced Australia to 8-122 on day one, only for Smith to amass a total of 284 with help from the tail.

England were again favoured to go 1-0 up in the series after claiming a first- innings lead of 90 runs, only for Smith to stage another recovery from 2-27.


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