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Steve Smith soaks up century at home ground

BEN HORNE
Last updated 03:32 04/01/2014
Steve Smith
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HOME, SWEET HOME: Steve Smith raises his bat after scoring his first century at his home ground at the SCG.

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Steve Smith realised a boyhood dream to score a century at the SCG, keeping Australia on target for a 5-0 Ashes whitewash in the process.

Smith and Brad Haddin came to the rescue when Australia were reeling at 5-97 and instigated a stunning turnaround on day one of the fifth Test.

Australia were bowled out for 326 after losing the toss, with all the momentum finishing with the home side after man-of-the-series Mitchell Johnson removed Michael Carberry in the shadows of stumps to leave England 1-8 in reply.

It was groundhog day for England, who again failed to deliver the killer blow and were made to pay by a ruthless opposition led by Haddin and Johnson.

Veteran wicketkeeper Haddin made 75 and his free-hitting was the highlight of a crucial 128-run sixth wicket stand with Smith.

But it was the 24-year-old Smith, born and bred in Sydney's Sutherland Shire, who went on to post his second ton of the series and first in front of a packed house at the SCG.

Smith smashed 17 fours and a six for his 115, soaking up a standing ovation as he continued England's tour from hell with a fighting innings.

"It's my favourite place to play. I'm absolutely delighted to have got a ton out here in tough circumstances and get the team in a good position," Smith said.

"Brad was great out there ... I took a back seat and watched him go. The way he played his shots was brilliant.

"He's been outstanding ... he comes in and tries to switch the momentum and he's done it numerous times this series."

The silver-lining of England's tour, allrounder Ben Stokes, claimed career-best figures of 6-99, but it was a tough day at the office for debutants Boyd Rankin and Scott Borthwick.

Rankin broke down on two occasions, appearing to struggle with hamstring soreness.

However, England say it was just cramp and expect him to bowl in the second innings.

It was pain of a different kind for legspinner Borthwick who had figures of 1-49 from seven overs.

Haddin in particular feasted on Borthwick, and England's reluctance to use their slow bowler contributed to a slow over rate and fans being robbed of six overs.

But there was no shortage of excitement, with Haddin (13 fours) and Smith heaping all the pressure on England, who have only passed a total of 300 twice this series.

"When you get sent in and make 326 you'll probably take that," said Smith.

"And to have them one out overnight as well, we're in a good position."

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Haddin became the first batsman in over 40 years to score a half century in every match of an Ashes series.

The veteran wicket-keeper has now scored four half centuries and a ton from every first innings he's played this series batting at No.7 and is in the form of his career.

Another Australian top order collapse gave cause for concern ahead of next month's tour to South Africa.

Openers David Warner and Chris Rogers went cheaply, and Michael Clarke and Shane Watson followed before lunch - with Stokes, Stuart Broad and James Anderson sharing the spoils.

Selectors gave George Bailey another chance at No.6, ensuring this Australia side goes down in history as the first to field an unchanged XI through a five-match series.

However, the romanticism couldn't inspire Bailey and his spot is now in jeopardy after edging Broad for 1.

- AAP

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