MELBOURNE (Reuters) – Australia captain Steve Smith tormented England with one other century because the fourth Ashes check led to a irritating draw for Joe Root’s aspect on a dull Melbourne Cricket Floor pitch on Saturday.
Smith marched off unbeaten after a 275-ball knock of 102, having nudged Australia to 263 for 4 and a lead of ninety nine runs earlier than the captains referred to as it off halfway via the ultimate session.
Quantity six batsman Mitchell Marsh was as cussed as his captain, scoring 29 from 166 balls to guard his wicket via the final two periods.
The unyielding drop-in pitch might have been England’s largest impediment, nevertheless, refusing to supply their bowlers any encouragement when it comes to tempo, motion or flip.
“I don’t assume it’s good for anybody,” Smith advised reporters of the wicket after his third century of the collection.
”There was completely nothing in it for the bowlers.
“I’m having fun with (batting), disgrace we needed to name it off within the final hour, I might have had one other hour on the market.”
With Man-of-the-Match Alastair Prepare dinner discovering type with an unbeaten 244, the vacationers can maybe declare an ethical victory after their batsmen constructed a primary-innings lead of 164 runs.
However they’ll nonetheless head into the fifth and remaining check three-zero down within the collection and determined for a face-saving win on the Sydney Cricket Floor.
Whereas stopping in need of criticising the pitch, Root stated his aspect had carried out so nicely in dismissing the hosts for 327 of their first innings.
“On a really unresponsive wicket, to carry out how we did on that first and second day with the ball was excellent,” he stated.
“Dissatisfied that we couldn’t fairly crack it open immediately however we tried out completely every part.”
Smith, having scored an unbeaten 141 in Brisbane and 239 in Perth, got here to the crease earlier than lunch on day 4, his staff weak at sixty five for 2.
He needed to dig them out of one other tough patch when England grabbed two late wickets early on Saturday to go away Australia wobbling at 178 for 4.
The skipper introduced up his century by chopping half-time legspinner Dawid Malan for a single, however there was no fist-pump or roar of celebration as within the earlier matches.
The 28-yr-previous merely raised his bat dutifully to the sparse fifth day crowd earlier than battening down once more.
Rain fell throughout lunch however cleared to offer England ample time to discover a breakthrough as Australia resumed on 178-four.
The vacationers laboured fruitlessly, nevertheless, as Smith and Marsh proceeded with self-discipline, content material to bat time quite than set a fourth-innings chase.
It had all appeared so promising for Root’s males once they grabbed Australia’s fourth wicket on the cusp of lunch to go away their opponents simply 14 runs forward with six wickets remaining.
Paceman Stuart Broad had dismissed center-order batsman Shaun Marsh for 4 with the final ball earlier than the interval however Smith has proved a continuing thorn in England’s aspect all through the collection.
Opener David Warner, who proved equally irksome to the vacationers within the match, soaked up 227 balls for his 86 earlier than noon.
He introduced up his slowest check fifty with a late minimize for 2 off all-rounder Chris Woakes and appeared cruising to a different ton after his first innings 103.
Nevertheless, he handed skipper Root a gift on his twenty seventh birthday, prime-edging the half-time spinner with an tried slog-sweep to be caught by James Vince.
Marsh survived for a lot of the final half-hour of the session earlier than he was caught behind by wicketkeeper Jonny Bairstow, who took a pointy one-handed catch shifting to his left.
Smith heads to Sydney comfortably prime of the batting record with 604 runs within the collection at a mean of 151 however he was nonetheless rueful for dropping Prepare dinner on sixty six and once more on 153 as the previous England skipper took the sport away from Australia together with his knock.
“That in all probability value us fairly a bit, too,” the 28-yr-previous stated. “It was fairly onerous to get in entrance of the sport.”
Modifying by Peter Rutherford