Australia 479-4 at stumps on day 3; lead England by 133 runs

BY AP • January 6, 2018

SYDNEY (AP) Usman Khawaja's first century in more than a year guided Australia to 479-4 at stumps on day three, helping build a commanding 133-run first-innings lead in the fifth Ashes test.

Khawaja batted for nearly nine hours over two days in amassing his 171, just missing his highest test score of 175, and was well-supported by half centuries from Steve Smith and the Marsh brothers on Saturday as Australia pushed hard for victory and a 4-0 series win.

England had a torrid day - highlighted by having TV umpire reviews on Khawaja and both Shaun and Mitch Marsh all go Australia's way - and wilted late as the hosts accelerated their scoring.

''It was a tough day,'' England wicketkeeper Jonny Bairstow said. ''We're 150 overs into the innings so there's going to be a few tired bodies out there.

''I thought the way the guys toiled out there and really worked hard was impressive and that's really good to see for us as a side going forward.''

At the close, Shaun Marsh was unbeaten on 98, nearing his second hundred of the series, with his younger sibling Mitch on 63 not out. The brothers combined for an unbeaten 104-run partnership.

Resuming on 91 on Saturday, Khawaja calmly guided his way through the 90s to raise his century in the eighth over with a cut off Moeen Ali to backward point for his maiden Ashes century. It came off 222 balls with seven boundaries and a six.

A clearly relieved Khawaja celebrated by removing his helmet and raising his bat toward his teammates and family in the stands at the Sydney Cricket Ground, before being warmly embraced by Smith.

''You don't get to celebrate test centuries too much unless you're Steve Smith, you've got to enjoy them when they come,'' Khawaja said. ''The SCG was where I grew up playing cricket for New South Wales and an Ashes century is something I have wanted for a long time and I haven't been able to achieve, so it was very satisfying.''

It was a timely innings for the 31-year-old Khawaja, who hadn't scored a test hundred since his 145 against South Africa in Adelaide in November 2016, as questions around his spot in the team had begun to arise after only scoring two 50s in six innings this series.

Despite losing Smith after combining for a 188-run partnership that swung the game firmly in Australia's favor, Khawaja progressed to his 150 off 333 balls, with 16 fours and a six, with consecutive boundaries off Ali. His milestone drew warm appreciation from a near-capacity SCG cloaked in pink to support the McGrath Foundation breast cancer charity fundraiser, which is in its 10th year.

Khawaja's 381-ball, 515-minute innings, including 18 boundaries and a six, ended when he skipped down the wicket to Crane and was stumped by Bairstow.

After earlier having an lbw decision review on Khawaja turned down for overstepping, there was no denying the 20-year-old Crane this time, giving the England leg-spinner his maiden test wicket.

Mitch Marsh accelerated Australia's scoring late with some lusty hitting to reach his 50 off 64 balls with six boundaries and two sixes off Ali.

He survived a DRS review when given out lbw to Curran near the close of play, only for the referral to confirm the batsman had edged the ball before it hit his pad.

''Those guys have received a lot of (flack) over the last couple of years,'' Khawaja said. ''To see them go out there and play really well, to play the way we know both of them can play, is really rewarding to see.''

Steve Smith was out moments before the lunch interval, missing another century that would have matched Bradman's 1930 feat of scoring four hundreds in an Ashes series.

England faces the increasing likelihood of a large first-innings deficit, despite its strong rally on Friday morning by their lower order which lifted the tourists to a competitive 346.

Australia won the first three tests convincingly to regain the Ashes, and the fourth test was drawn last week in Melbourne.

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