Honours even following Day 1 at Emirates Old Trafford
44 overs bowled following an interrupted day
The 4th Specsavers Ashes at Emirates Old Trafford got underway with a rain-interrupted first day that saw 44 overs bowled and Australia close on 170-3.
Tim Paine won the toss, elected to bat and lost both openers inside seven overs, before Marnus Labuschagne and Steve Smith continued their fine tours with a century stand.
Craig Overton struck late in what turned out to be the final session, before rain return and curtailed proceedings for the day.
Following their thrilling victory to level the series last week, England started with the momentum as Stuart Broad continued his dominance over David Warner (0), when the opener feathered one, while attempting to leave, through to Jonny Bairstow in the opening over.
It looked like Emirates Old Trafford could be set to witness a trademark Stuart Broad Ashes blitz, as Marcus Harris soon followed LBW for 13.
However that brought together England’s chief tormentors, Labuschange and Smith, playing in the same side for the first time this series.
The pair looked unflustered in seam friendly conditions as popstar Ed Sheeran watched on from the James Anderson End, guiding Australia up towards 100 when lunch fell. With the visitors 98-2 at the break, rain arrived to keep the players off until 4pm.
They continued their stand following the resumption, Smith in particular smashing a couple of fierce drives through the covers, while standing on one leg, for four runs.
With 116 added for the third wicket, Overton, who replaced Chris Woakes in the side as England’s only change, produced an absolute peach which beat Labuschange’s defence to kiss the top of off-stump and end his gritty 67.
Smith was joined by Travis Head who nicked a couple of boundaries between the slips, before surviving an LBW review after Ben Stokes clattered his pads with a full delivery.
With tea due to be taken at 5.30pm, there was just enough time to complete a strange second session before wind and heavy rain returned – with the visitors 170-3 from their 44 overs and Smith poised ominously to return on 60 not out.