Australia wrested back the initiative in the third Test by crushing the England batting and replying with 202-3 on day two.
England resumed their first innings at the WACA on 305-4 with Dawid Malan (on 110) and Jonny Bairstow (75) well set. Seventeen overs into the day, it was looking even better at 368-4. At which point Malan, then on 140, decided to have a lash at Nathan Lyon. He was nowhere close to the pitch of this offbreak and skewed it to backward point.
That only ended the fifth-wicket stand of 237 – 18 shy of the all-time record for England – but it heralded a collapse that saw six wickets go down for 35 runs. England, who had been looking at a declaration in the 500s, staggered to 403.
England’s flame of hope leapt again when Craig Overton removed David Warner (22) and Cameron Bancroft (25) with 55 on the board, but it was quickly extinguished by Steve Smith and Usman Khawaja, who rebuilt the innings and confidence with a stand of 124. Khawaja played the anchor as Smith attacked with style and grace, scoring at a rate of 75.4. Khawaja fell lbw to Chris Woakes for 50 off 123 balls, while Smith cruised on to close the day on 92 off 122. With him was Shaun Marsh on seven.
England will be looking to take early wickets on day three, but much will depend on their mental fortitude, having been so deflated throughout day two.
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