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Sunday 23
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Cricket

Aussies close on Ashes as Smith and Marsh dominate

16th December 2017, 10:42 by Neil Foster

Australia were 549-4 at stumps on day three of the third Test thanks to Steve Smith's double century and Mitchell Marsh's hundred.

The pair shared an unbroken stand of 301 as England's bowlers wilted in Perth, taking just one wicket all day as their grip on the Ashes weakened even further.

Having lost the first two Tests, Joe Root's men need to avoid defeat at the Waca to stay in the series but, trailing by 146 runs and with two days to go, it will be tough for the tourists and they might need to rely on the forecast rain to save them.

Smith began the day on 92, with England making all the right noises about taking early wickets overnight and they did manage to get rid of Shaun Marsh for 28, caught by Root off the bowling of Moeen Ali.

However that brought his brother to the crease and it was then a day of misery for the Three Lions.

Smith remains unbeaten on 229 - his highest Test score - made from 390 deliveries and containing 28 fours and one six.

Marsh was equally as destructive, ending the day on 181 not out from 234 balls, with 29 fours in a superb effort.

England's bowling figures do not make great reading and, from the regular attack, only James Anderson does not have three figures next to his name in the runs conceded column.

It has been a chastening experience for England and shows how their first-innings score of 403 was at least 150 runs short of what should have been scored on an excellent batting surface in Western Australia.

After his knock Marsh spoke to ABC and admitted he had kept it pretty simple out in the middle to make his first five-day ton.

"It was pure elation. It's taken me 22 Tests. I wasn't really nervous," he said. "I felt calm and that kept me going. I wasn't thinking about too much. Anything wide, I was just going to slash at."

This article originated on sportinastorm.com

Neil Foster is an experienced journalist who specialises in cricket and rugby union. Neil also has a solid knowledge of tennis, golf and football.

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