Day four of the second Ashes Test ended firmly in the balance, England 104 ahead with six second-innings wickets in hand heading into a finely-poised final day. But there was one huge talking point out of so many after an exhilarating afternoon duel between England’s debutant Jofra Archer and Steve Smith.
Smith was led from the field but returned just 40 minutes later after passing concussion tests, dismissed softly by Chris Woakes for 92 and looking understandably shaken.
Australia eventually wrapped up eight behind on 250, and England – at 9-2 for one point – fought back to set up a tantalising day five, with Ben Stokes (16*) and Jos Buttler (10) at the crease and the hosts leading by 104 runs.
Keep up to date with all the day’s play at Lord’s via our live score.
Welcome to live coverage of day five of a captivating first Ashes Test at Edgbaston.
Steve Smith’s majestic double tons on his return to Test cricket leave England scrapping to salvage a result on the final day.
Smith, back in the Baggy Green 16 months after being banned for his role in the sandpaper scandal, followed a brilliant 144 on day one with an equally fine 142 on day four to become just the fifth Australian to hit twin hundreds against England.
Where the first rescued his side from the cliff edge at 122-8, the sequel helped set a monstrous target of 398. Matthew Wade also left his mark on the home team, chiming in with a fluent 110 before the declaration came at 487-7.
The most realistic task for England appears to be to try and bat right through for a draw, with first-innings centurion Rory Burns and Jason Roy successfully navigating seven overs before stumps on Sunday.
Can England survive? Or will Nathan Lyon et al bowl Australia to victory?
The hosts resume on 13-0, needing a nominal 385 more runs to win.
Holders Australia will resume on 124-3 – a lead of 34 runs – as the fourth day of the Ashes gets under way at Edgbaston on Sunday.
The Baggy Green are looking to win their first Test series away to England in 18 years, and they were again left looking to talisman Steve Smith in their second innings, with the star batsman 46 not out at the close of Saturday’s third day.
Former captain Smith has already marked his first Test match since completing a 12-month ban imposed by Cricket Australia for his role in a ball-tampering scandal in South Africa last year with a brilliant century. His magnificent 144 helped revive Australia from the depths of 122-8 in their first innings to an eventual total of 284.
And James Pattinson has backed the “fantastic” Smith to rescue Australia once again with the bat in the first Test.
“I was talking to the press before about great players and how they always stand up when you need them,” Australia fast bowler Pattinson told reporters.
“And I think he’s done that in this game. Without him, we would be in a bit of trouble.”
Play resumes at 11am UK time (2pm UAE) and you can follow all the action below