ADELAIDE (Reuters) - Australia took firm control of the second Ashes test when an unbeaten century from Shaun Marsh pushed the hosts to 442 for eight declared in their first innings on the second day of the day-night contest on Sunday.
The tourists, who sent the Australians in to bat after winning the toss on Saturday, had made 29 for one in reply when rain brought a premature end to the day’s play at Adelaide Oval.
It looked like something of a reprieve for England, who had already lost Mark Stoneman for 18 to leave Alastair Cook, unbeaten on 11, and James Vince, yet to score, facing a night assault from Australia’s pace battery.
Marsh had earlier put the hosts on the front foot with his fifth test century, a 231-ball vindication of the decision by the Australian selectors to hand the 34-year-old his eighth test recall.
“We knew if we could bat for most of the day and put them in under lights we’d be a chance,” Marsh told reporters. “To be nice and patient, and get a hundred there at the end was pleasing.
“It’s great to be playing for Australia and just to be out there in the middle.”
Marsh had to grit it out at times as England produced a much improved bowling performance after a disappointing day one and had the Decision Review System (DRS) to thank for a life after initially being given out lbw to James Anderson on 29.
Tim Paine, who joined Marsh at the crease when Stuart Broad dismissed Peter Handscomb lbw with the third delivery of the day, was similarly reprieved when tracking showed an Anderson delivery would have gone over the stumps.
Marsh put on 85 with Paine as the two most controversial selections in the Australia squad for the first two tests frustrated England before the wicketkeeper holed out for 57 — a third test half century coming seven years after his second.
The left-hander then put together a stand of 99 with Pat Cummins, reaching the hundred mark in the process with a sumptuous pull off a Chris Woakes delivery which raced to the square leg boundary for his 12th four.
The batsman whipped off his helmet to acknowledge the applause of another bumper crowd at the Adelaide Oval and almost immediately had another reprieve when Cook and James Vince collided in the gully with neither able to take a simple catch.
If much of Marsh’s progress to the century had been a stop-start affair, there was nothing cautious about the way he punished the tourists for their profligacy after the break as Steve Smith pondered the declaration.
With Cummins initially providing back-up with his highest test score, a seven-boundary 44, Marsh added three more fours and a punishing straight six off Broad to finish unbeaten on 126 when Smith finally called him in.
“Some days it goes your ways and some it doesn’t,” England coach Trevor Bayliss said.
“There’s a good feeling in the dressing room. They’re certainly not disheartened at all. Shaun showed it’s not impossible to score runs out there. It will be up to one of our guys to go out and make a bit score, not just 40 or 50.”
England, already 1-0 down in the five-match series after a 10-wicket loss in Brisbane last week, made a reasonable start before Mitchell Starc sent down a fizzing yorker that trapped Stoneman in front.
To add insult to injury on a day when the DRS had worked so well for Australia, Stoneman referred the decision, only for the tracking to show the ball would have clattered into his leg stump.
Editing by John O'Brien