England face a fight to keep their Ashes hopes alive after once again suffering at the hands of Steve Smith.
Smith hit an imperious double century on the second day of the fourth Test at Old Trafford to put the tourists on course for a potential Ashes-clinching victory.
With the series level at 1-1, Australia will retain the urn with victory in Manchester, regardless of the result of next week’s final Test at the Oval.
Smith hit 211 – his third century of the series – as Australia declared on a formidable 497 for eight in their first innings. England made a poor start in reply, losing Joe Denly for just four, and will resume on Friday morning on 23 for one.
Day three key battle – Stokes v Lyon
The Old Trafford pitch has shown signs of taking spin and the slow bowlers could get more from it as the match goes on. Nathan Lyon bowled an untidy over on day two but his captain is likely to want much more from him moving forward. His battle with England’s in-form Ben Stokes could be intriguing, having already dismissed him twice in the series.
What’s the weather for day three?
According to the Met Office, it will be overcast with a chance of light rain on Friday morning and until early in the afternoon. There will be sunny intervals later while the temperature is likely to reach a high of 17C.
Tweet of day two
Former England captain Michael Vaughan appears to fear the worst for England’s hopes of regaining the Ashes.
Quote of day two
Smith recalls the moment he thought he had been dismissed before being recalled due to a no ball.
Snap shot of the day
Smith’s 211 took him to 589 runs for the 2019 Ashes, far and away the leading scorer in the series from just four innings. Ben Stokes is the next best with 327 from six innings. He is averaging 147.25 for the series, has faced 906 balls having hit 68 fours and four sixes. He has batted for 1,423 minutes, or more than 23 hours. Ninety-three of those runs came after he was caught off what proved a Leach no ball. It was his 11th Ashes hundred and third double century against England. Sir Don Bradman (18 and eight) is the only Australian with more in either category.
After the rain delays and interruptions because of the wind on day one, day two had barely begun when there was another stoppage – this time for the sun. A TV van parked next to the stand behind the bowler’s arm was reflecting rays into the eyes of the Australian batsmen. Frantic attempts were made to cover the window with a sheet. Later on, a beach ball also interrupted play for a second-successive day.
It proved a long and arduous day in the field for England, and particularly for Archer. Prior to the game the paceman had lived up to much of the hype surrounding his exciting arrival on the Test scene but this was a sobering occasion. He went wicketless throughout the innings for the first time and his figures of nought for 97 were his worst in first-class cricket. His pace was also down on previous outings and England will hope he can rest for as long as possible on Friday.