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Manchester: Australia’s Steve Smith marked his return to international cricket with a double century (211) on the second day of the fourth Ashes Test against England at Old Trafford on Thursday.

The world’s top-ranked Test batsman went to his third double hundred at this level, and third against England, in 310 balls including 22 fours and two sixes with a legside two off Stuart Broad as Australia declared at 497/8 in their first innings.

In reply, England lost the wicket of Joe Denly (4) cheaply to end the day at 23/1. Another opener Rory Burns (15) and Craig Overton (3) were at the crease, trailing by 474 runs.

Earlier, Smith was eventually out for 211, when a reverse sweep off England captain and occasional spinner Joe Root’s leg-break was caught by Joe Denly at what had been backward point. However, Mitchll Starc helped himself to an unbeaten 54 in 58 balls to boost the visitors’ total.

Smith missed England’s series-levelling one-wicket win in the third Test at Headingley with a concussion suffered when struck by a Jofra Archer bouncer during the drawn second Test at Lord’s.

But, even so, he has now scored 589 runs in four innings this series -- his first since completing a 12-month ball-tampering ban, including three hundreds, at a colossal average of 147.25. This was the third time this Ashes he had reached three figures following scores of 144 and 142 in the first Test at Edgbaston, with his lowest total of the series the 92 he made at Lord’s. The 30-year-old former Australia captain was, however, dropped on 65 on Thursday when Jofra Archer failed to hold a caught and bowled chance off a hard-hit full toss.

Smith was also reprieved on 118 when caught at slip off Jack Leach only for replays to reveal that the left-arm spinner had bowled just the eighth no-ball of his first-class career.

Resuming on 60 with the team score reading 170/3, Smith showed no signs of relenting although he was troubled on a few occasions by Jofra Archer to continue his prolific run-scoring spree and bring up his third Ashes century in 160 balls by clipping Craig Overton off his pads for a couple of runs.

Brief Scores: Australia 497/8d (Steve Smith 211, M Labuschagne 67, Tim Paine 58, Mitchell Starc 54no; Stuart Broad 3/97) vs England 23/1. 





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