sport

Smith leads Aussie fightback

A fine century from Steve Smith and another dogged innings from Brad Haddin helped Australia claim control of the third Ashes Test against England in Perth.

Australia had been on the ropes as they were reduced to 143-5 after opting to bat first on a bouncy WACA pitch.

However Haddin and Smith turned the tide with a defiant stand of 124 as Australia reached 326-6 at stumps - with the Ashes seemingly slipping out of England's grasp.

Haddin had already registered scores of 94, 53, and 118 in his three innings so far in the series - and he followed these up with a gutsy, if sometimes fortuitous, knock of 55

It wasn't pretty but the wicketkeeper-batsman's timely tally came off 100 balls and included five boundaries and a six - before he fell to Ben Stokes in the evening session.

Conversely Smith batted beautifully to reach only his second Test ton, with the 24-year-old remaining unbeaten on 103 at the close.

Gifted

The sixth-wicket partnership undid a lot of England's good work, as they once again got themselves in a strong position only for the Australia middle order to hit back.

England had been gifted the opening wicket when having hit two boundaries already in Stuart Broad's first over, Chris Rogers decided he'd try and sneak a single to James Anderson at mid-on.

The left-hander put in a full-length dive but was still caught short by the fielder's direct hit at the non-striker's end, leaving Australia at 13-1.

Broad came back for a second spell and got rid of Shane Watson, a full, wide delivery seeing an ambitious front-foot drive being attempted. Yet instead of going through the covers, the ball instead took the edge and was well caught by Graeme Swann at second slip.

David Warner and Michael Clarke - the top two run-scorers in the series - looked much more comfortable, with the scoreboard ticking over thanks to 17 boundaries.

Yet their departures either side of the interval checked the home side's progress. Clarke, who after choosing to bat first in his 100th Test appearance looked to be building another big innings, easing his way to 24 before he paid the price for looking to be aggressive against Swann in the spinner's first over.

Clarke, fresh from being named as the , came down the wicket but could only to cloth an attempted drive low to opposite number Alastair Cook at short mid-wicket.

Blow

Warner also perished to Swann, with the opener top-edging to Michael Carberry at backward point for 60.

Australia were dealt a further blow when George Bailey's attempts to attack a bouncer from Broad only resulted in him skying a catch out to Kevin Pietersen at deep square leg.

England must have thought that things in the series were finally going their way, however Haddin and Smith had other ideas.

Haddin rode his luck to at times, however England just couldn't find a way to stop him, while Smith continued to keep the pressure on the tourists as he feasted on anything short. He was also quick to use his feet to attack Swann, twice launching him for maximums.

Stokes finally got the breakthrough for England, with Haddin mistiming his pull to Anderson at midwicket.

Smith, though, brought up his century off 173 deliveries shortly after - and alongside Mitchell Johnson (39no) he was able to keep the score ticking over.

Johnson, who has been no slouch with the bat this series, brought up the 300 with a boundary straight down the ground off Joe Root.

The duo also saw off the threat of the new ball, with their 59-run stand guiding Australia safely to the close - and leaving England with a mountain to climb.