Khawaja hits 166 as Australia edge ahead in Sydney

06 Jan, 2018 10:12 am

SYDNEY (Reuters) – Usman Khawaja hit a mammoth 166 not out as Australia brushed aside the loss of captain Steve Smith to ease 19 runs ahead of England on 365 for three at tea on the third day of the fifth Ashes Test on Saturday.

Mooen Ali had stunned a packed house at the Sydney Cricket Ground by moving the apparently unmoveable when he dismissed Smith caught and bowled for 83 just before lunch to break his 188-run partnership with Khawaja.

Khawaja survived a minor wobble before the break but then combined with Shaun Marsh, who brought up his 10th half century just before tea, in a stand of 91 to take the hosts past England’s tally of 346.

England, already 3-0 down in the series and scrapping for a consolation victory, bowled tightly enough to keep the run rate down but a breakthrough evaded them and they looked to be facing a long, hot day in the field.

Captain Joe Root came closest to a wicket after lunch with his occasional spin when Marsh, on 22, was given out caught behind only for the decision to be reversed on review when TV pictures showed a big gap between ball and bat.

Khawaja, looking comfortable at the crease, had already strode down the wicket and thumped Moeen’s spin for consecutive boundaries to bring up the 150.

Earlier, after Australia had resumed on 193 for two, Khawaja had wasted no time in knocking off the nine runs he needed to secure his sixth Test century.

Reaching the milestone by cutting Moeen for two runs, he pumped his fist before doffing his helmet to receive the ovation of a crowd largely clad in pink in support of Glenn McGrath’s cancer charity.

A fine stroke-player but considered suspect against spin bowling, Khawaja made his debut at the SCG in the corresponding Ashes clash eight years ago but has had a stop-start career in the baggy green.

Debutant England leg-spinner Mason Crane (0-93) tested the 31-year-old’s skill against the turning ball to its limits in the final over before lunch.

First the 20-year-old came up just short of removing him caught and bowled and, two balls later, had a good shout for lbw knocked back after the review showed he had overstepped the mark and bowled a no-ball.

Smith has already scored three centuries, two of them unbeaten and one a double, in the series and although denied a fourth by Moeen, walked off his home ground having amassed 687 runs at an average of 137.4 over the five Tests.

Australia won back the Ashes with victories in the first three matches in Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth with the fourth Test in Melbourne finishing in a draw last week.

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