Steve Smith delivered another defiant innings on his return from a concussion to lead Australia out of early trouble and into a solid position at 170-3 on a rain-shortened first day of the fourth Ashes Test on Wednesday.
The world's No 1 Test batsman defied England with an unbeaten 60 after putting on a third-wicket stand of 116 with Marnus Labuschagne (67), another player the hosts have struggled to get out cheaply this series.
The Australians had been reeling on 28-2 after David Warner (0) and Marcus Harris (13) fell to paceman Stuart Broad in the opening seven overs.
Craig Overton, recalled by England for a first appearance in 18 months, eventually bowled Labuschagne during a blustery afternoon session but Smith's continued presence — after he scored 144, 142 and 92 in his three previous knocks this series — was increasingly ominous as England attempted to keep the battle for the urn alive in Manchester.
The teams are tied at 1-1 with two matches left. Australia will retain the urn if the series is drawn.
The inclement conditions meant just 44 overs were bowled in the day, with stumps finally called at 6:10 p.m. local time, but that was still enough for Smith to bank another two-and-a-half hours at the crease.
After Australia won the toss and chose to bat first at a windy Old Trafford, Warner went to leave a wide delivery from Broad on the fourth ball of the innings but ended up getting a nick behind to wicketkeeper Jonny Bairstow.
Warner has only reached double figures once in seven innings this series, in which Broad has got him out five times.
Harris was then trapped lbw by Broad off the last ball of the seventh over. Australia reviewed but replays showed the ball was just clipping leg stump.
That brought Smith to the crease and he was soon facing Jofra Archer, the fast bowler who delivered a bouncer into the neck of the Australia batsman in the drawn second Test at Lord's. Suffering with delayed concussion, Smith didn't bat in the second innings at Lord's and missed the third Test, won by England at Headingley.
In the Ashes Daily, Australian journalists Geoff Lemon and Adam Collins are following the action all around England and Wales. Their long weekly podcast The Final Word has been going for five years.
Every day, The Final Word will team up with Firstpost to bring you a new episode from wherever Geoff and Adam are on the road. On trains and buses, in pubs, on the street, in parks, on barges floating down rivers, and anywhere else that they might end up.
They are also watching an awful lot of cricket, and can summarise all the matches that you didn’t have time to see, or can bring you into the discussion about the ones you did watch.
So tune in to enjoy the coverage of one of the oldest rivalries in the history of cricket.
With inputs from AP