Steven Smith was one of the few Australian batsmen yet to make a mark on this Ashes series down under. Not anymore, as the right-hander, when Australia were in desperate need of someone to raise their hands and be counted, made a marvellous unbeaten century to put the home side in a position of strength at the end of the first day of the third Test in Perth against England.
Choosing to bat first, Australia found themselves in trouble with just 143 on the board and five batsmen back in the hut left to cool their heels. But in stepped Smith (103 n.o., 191b, 13x4, 2x6), in serene form, and the impregnable Brad Haddin (55, 100b, 5x4, 2x6), with the duo putting on 124 valuable runs to pull Australia out of troubled waters.
Ben Stoke would pick up Haddin's wicket in the final session, but Smith held fort along with Mitchell Johnson (39 n.o., 60b, 6x4) as Australia finished the first day on 326 for six.
Had it not been for Smith and Haddin, England could well have found themselves out in the middle batting, with their bowlers making regular inroads in the first two sessions.
First to go was Chris Rogers, who went for a suicidal quick single with James Anderson gleefully accepting the chance of a run out.
Shane Watson did not last too long either, wafting at a ball outside off stump off Stuart Broad with Graeme Swann doing the rest at slip.
Australia skipper Michael Clarke then gifted a catch to his counterpart Alastair Cook, both playing in their 100th Test, as Australia floundered on 106 for three. It did not get much better as George Bailey fell to the short ball off Broad, before David Warner (60), looking really good, fell to Swann.
The Aussies have always found the right partnership when needed in this Ashes series so far and that proved to be the case yet again as Smith and Haddin frustrated the England bowlers, while taking the home side to a real position of strength.
The second day at the WACA will be crucial now; the longer Australia bat, the more difficult it will be for weary-looking England.
Where to Watch Live
The 3rd Ashes Test is set for an 8 am IST start with live coverage on Star Sports 1 and Star Sports HD1 in India. Viewers in India can also catch the match via live streaming by clicking HERE. Viewers in the U.K. can live stream the match HERE. To watch the match in Australia, click HERE. To watch the action online in the U.S., click HERE.