Marnus Labuschagne and Steve Smith steadied the ship after Stuart Broad removed both Australia openers early on day one of the fourth Ashes Test at Old Trafford.
England paceman Broad got rid of David Warner without scoring in the first over – the fifth time he has dismissed the opener in the series – and Marcus Harris (13) after the tourists won the toss.
Australia were in trouble on 28-2 when Harris departed before the in-form Labuschagne (49 not out) and Smith (28no) took Australia onto 98-2 at lunch on a cool, windy day with rain on the way in Manchester.
Smith, back in the side after recovering from concussion, survived when Joe Root reviewed after he was struck on the pad by Headingley hero Ben Stokes on 21, but umpire’s call was the verdict.
Marnus Labuschagne and Steve Smith, finally batting together in this Ashes series, and they’ve been brilliant.
— ICC (@ICC) September 4, 2019
The excellent Broad (2-24) saw the back of Warner yet again when the left-hander drew the bat away too late attempting to leave and edged his second ball to Jonny Bairstow.
Harris followed leg before as Broad built up a head of steam in a strong breeze, but Labuschagne and Smith played with great assurance on a good pitch.
Smith came down the track in a statement of intent after driving Jofra Archer for four and handled the short stuff with confidence after a nasty blow from the England quick ruled him out of Australia’s dramatic loss in Leeds.
Labuschagne, moving up to number three with Smith fit again and Usman Khawaja dropped, played glorious drives and the former captain – who he replaced at Lord’s and in Leeds – was also in ominous touch.
Smith breathed a sigh of relief when Stokes did him for pace with a delivery that came in sharply, but DRS showed the ball was clipping leg stump.
Craig Overton, in for Chris Woakes, bowled with good pace before lunch but Australia – with Mitchell Starc picked for the first time in the series – recovered well from their bad start thanks to Smith and Labuschagne.