Smith closes in on 2nd century in opening Ashes test

BIRMINGHAM, England (AP) — Steve Smith moved within touching distance of a second century of the match as he led Australia to a 141-run lead at lunch Sunday on the fourth day of the Ashes opener at Edgbaston.

Smith, who carved out 144 to rescue his side in the first innings, was on 98 not as the tourists reached 231-4 after losing just one wicket in the morning session.

Smith added 42 runs to his overnight score, the bulk coming in a stand of 130 with Travis Head, the only wicket to fall when Ben Stokes took his edge for 51.

The last player to score twin hundreds in an Ashes test was Matthew Hayden in Brisbane 17 years ago.

England took the field hoping for a big show from spinner Moeen Ali, who removed Cameron Bancroft on day three but also shipped 47 runs in his nine overs.

His ball scuttled low off the pitch and his fifth looped accidentally out of the hand, passing well above Smith's head for a no-ball. It was an ominous start to a seven-over spell which failed to build pressure or bring chances, Smith and Head in full control.

In the end England was forced to replace him with Joe Denly, whose part-time leg-breaks briefly offered a point of difference but included too many cheap runs.

Stuart Broad started soundly at the other end, with a pair of early lbw shouts around the wicket to Head, but the angle of delivery was always against Broad.

Stokes finally got England on the board when Head's outside edge sailed into Jonny Bairstow's gloves for 51.

The umpires checked Stokes' delivery stride before confirming the wicket, with his trailing foot seemingly close to no-ball territory.


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