Monday 19 March 2018 / 12:24 AM

The Ashes – Day Two Australia Declare 9/492

The rain caused a lengthy halt to Australia’s dominance of the fifth Ashes Test at the Oval on day two however the tourists were still well on top at the close of play.

After eventually declaring on 9/492, Michael Clarke and his men find themselves 460 runs to the good ahead of Friday’s action, albeit with England still fully intact after a nervy evening session.

Following a powerful display on the opening day, spearheaded by the resurgent Shane Watson who hit 176, the Aussies were hoping to kick on from the first ball on Thursday to enhance their promising position on 4/307.

But Steve Smith and Peter Siddle were forced to wait well over three hours before returning to the crease courtesy of heavy downpours which threatened to cause a complete wash-out around lunch.

Conditions finally upturned however and the pair resumed mid-afternoon brimming with condfidence in pursuit of a strong fifth wicket stand.

Their partnership lasted little more than a few minutes however as Siddle fell to James Anderson – the prolific pace man taking off stump out of the ground to send his opposite number packing for 23.

Thankfully for the travelling fans, Smith’s stay in the thick of things was to last a while longer and a superb maiden century was secured just before tea, moving Australia on to 6/397 after the loss of Brad Haddin to Jonathan Trott for 30.

The Aussie tail put on nearly 100 more runs alongside Smith who left the field to a rapturous applause 136 unbeaten at the declaration, Aus now fully in command with a tense 20 or so overs lying in wait for the England batsman.

But despite the anticipated late onslaught, Alistair Cook and Joe Root managed to fend off everything thrown at them, putting 32 runs on the board before bad light stopped play, much to the annoyance of Clarke who sensed an impending breakthrough.

Weather permitting, the third day should see the fifth Ashes Test reignite back to life as England seek to reduce their colossal deficit ahead of the weekend.

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Chris Kisby

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