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Day 2 report: Australia captain Steve Smith again showed the way with a dominating 92 not out in a positive response to England's first innings total of 403 on the second day of the third Ashes test on Friday.
England resumed in a strong position on 305-4, but a familiar collapse saw the brittle lower order collapse and the tourists lost their last six wickets for just 35 runs. In response, England struck early with two wickets, but Smith, 92 not out, and Usman Khawaja, 50, guided Australia to 203-3 at stumps.
Australia lost openers David Warner (22) and Cameron Bancroft (25) in quick succession and fell to 55-2 before Smith came to the rescue.
Fast bowler Craig Overton (2-46) had Warner caught behind and then successfully reviewed an lbw decision against Bancroft after it was initially rejected. Smith dominated a 124-run stand with Khawaja and will resume Saturday with Shaun Marsh on 7 not out.
Medium pacer Chris Woakes trapped Khawaja lbw. Overton later left the field with a suspected side strain.
Earlier, Dawid Malan (140) and Jonny Bairstow (119) both posted centuries after England resumed on 305-4 and produced the most productive partnership of the series for the tourists before another late collapse.
Malan and Bairstow shared a record 237-run fifth wicket stand to help England post its first 400-run total in 15 Ashes test innings in Australia. The pair came together with England in trouble at 131-4 and endured a barrage of bouncers to lift England to a comfortable position before the lower-order collapse in the space of 50 balls that was triggered by Malan's departure.
The Malan-Bairstow stand is the highest fifth-wicket stand for England in Ashes tests, surpassing the Eddie Paynter and Denis Compton partnership of 206 runs at Trent Bridge in 1938.
Bairstow, batting at his preferred No. 6, celebrated his fourth test century — and first in the Ashes — in front of a 22,179 crowd at the WACA ground. He punched the air and head-butted his helmet on reaching his triple figures, a humorous reference to an episode at a Perth bar at the start of tour.
Bairstow batted for 322 minute and faced 215 balls, hitting 18 fours.
"The hundred in many ways was my favorite one, said Bairstow. "A huge amount of pride comes with it.
"It was bit of a light-hearted fun with everything that has gone on, and that is exactly how it should be taken," Bairstow said of his celebration.
"I have played in a few Ashes series, and now to score an Ashes hundred is something you dream about as a kid. It's the pinnacle of your game.
Despite the surface remaining batsman-friendly Bairstow is confident his side can force a result.
"Our boys have the skills to take 20 wickets in this match," added Bairstow. "It is an interesting state at the end of day two. The cracks might potentially change things."
Needing to avoid defeat in Perth to have any chance of salvaging the five-match series, England won the toss and produced its most positive innings of the tour after heavy losses in the first two tests in Brisbane and Adelaide.
With inputs from AP