Ashes 2019: Unbeaten Steve Smith holds the key for Australia as rain halts England's progress at Lord's

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Smith remained unbeaten on 13 on day three.

On an overcast and gloomy day at Lord’s, England found plenty of joy in the small chunks of play that were possible on Day Three of the second Ashes Test against Australia.

Having been bowled out for 258 runs in their first innings, the hosts came roaring back into the tie in the morning session of day three with the pacers making early inroads in the Aussie response.

Stuart Broad was the pick of England bowlers with two scalps while Jofra Archer bagged his maiden Test wicket as the visitors were left reeling at 80-4 before play was abandoned for the day.

England’s nemesis Steve Smith was still unbeaten at the crease but David Warner’s miserable Ashes continued with the opening falling to Broad for the third time in a row in the series.

Warner was bowled around his legs for just three runs before to give England the first opening before Cameron Bancroft and Usman Khawaja steadying things down with a gritty stand.

The pair added 49 runs for the second wicket amidst some excellent bowling by the hosts before Bancroft’s luck ran out. The Australia opener became Archer’s maiden Test scalp after being caught plumb on the pads by a sharp in-swinger.

Things went from bad to worse for the Aussies with Khawaja departing after his solid 36 in the very next over. Lord’s favourite Chris Woakes was the man to do the damage with Khawaja getting a thick edge which was gobbled up safely by Jonny Bairstow.

Broad had his second of the day with the help of a review after Aleem Dar had originally turned down his lbw shout against Travis Head as Australia slumped to 71-4.

The hosts were celebrating a fifth wicket soon after when Dar raised the finger to Ben Stokes’ appeal against Matthew Wade but the Aussie batsman was the one to benefit from a review this time around with replays showing the delivery as pitching outside leg-stump.

Smith remained a solid figure in his 40-ball vigil at the crease and the right-hander will hold the key on the fourth day if Australia are to remain in the hunt in the Test.

‘Twitchy’ Smith’s theatrical leaves

Smith’s idiosyncratic movements at the batting crease can be off-putting for most bowlers and England skipper Joe Root had hoped that his bowlers will be able to ignore them in the second Test at Lord’s.

“It’s something you’ve got to look past. A lot of what he does is to try to put you off in a way, trying to make it look extremely different so you have to think way outside the box,” Root had said ahead of the Lord’s Test.

“You look at his dismissals over a period of time, it’s not far away from everyone else’s – the movements before and after it might look slightly different but it’s just being really clear on how we want to go about it.”

Smith was even more extravagant with his trigger movements on Friday with the right-hander displaying some theatrical leaves during his unbeaten 40-ball vigil at the crease. Whether it put off England’s bowlers is debatable but Smith was the only Aussie batsman who looked untroubled on a day which was highly conducive to swing bowling due to the overcast conditions.

Better forecast for final two days

While the unfavourable weather has already cost more than one and a half day’s play in the Test, there is cause for optimism for the final two days.

The weather forecast for Saturday and Sunday is largely favourable and two complete days of play is a real possibility. Whether that is enough for either side to force a result remains to be seen but it is the hosts who look to be ahead at this stage and they will be desperately hoping to dismissing Smith early on day four and bundle out Australia cheaply in the first innings.

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