Aussies dig in under lights on spirited first day in Adelaide

Saturday, 02 December 2017, 11:51:12 PM. Australia fights its way through to stumps only four wickets down on day one of a tough, and at times feisty, first day of the second Ashes Test against England in Adelaide.

Steve Smith walks alongside Stuart Broad as they share words on day one of the second Ashes Test. Photo: Tensions flared as the English came hard at Steve Smith on day one in Adelaide. (AAP: Dave Hunt)

Australia has fought through a fluctuating first day of the day-night Ashes Test in Adelaide to reach 4-209 at stumps.

Honours can be considered even after the opening day of the second Test, as England restricted Australia's dangerous partnerships from flourishing while Australia's batsman dug in to avoid any trademark collapses.

At the close of play, the middle-order duo of Peter Handscomb (36*) and Shaun Marsh (20*) remain unbeaten, having seen off some quality English bowling under the Adelaide Oval lights.

It was a day that ebbed and flowed, and one that was too frequently interrupted by uncooperative weather.

England captain Joe Root's decision to bowl first having won the toss raised eyebrows, even more so as the new Australian opening pair of David Warner and Cameron Bancroft looked disturbingly comfortable against the new ball.

But the great anticipation that met the first session of the Test was quickly extinguished by persistent rain that took players off the field twice, and eventually brought about an early tea.

Usman Khawaja raises his bat after reaching a half-century as Steve Smith looks on at Adelaide Oval. Photo: Usman Khawaja was the only Australian batsman to pass 50 on day one. (AAP: Dave Hunt)

That break did England wonders though, as the game was brought to life by the run out of Bancroft almost immediately after the second session begun.

Warner had as much of a role in the dismissal as fielder Chris Woakes, as Bancroft was told to come and then retreat by his team-mate, only to see his stumps thrown down by the unerringly accurate Woakes.

Joined by Usman Khawaja, Warner resettled and took the attack back to England. His promising innings of 47 was cut short by a rising Woakes delivery that caught the edge through to Jonny Bairstow behind the stumps.

Buoyed by the breakthrough, Steve Smith's arrival sparked something in England. Fed up with the Aussie skipper dictating terms, Stuart Broad and co launched a verbal battle that visibly rattled Smith and made for the most intriguing one-on-one contest of the series to date.

The pair survived to the dinner break, adding some more expansive strokes to the arsenal as the session progressed and with Khawaja reaching a composed, if slightly fortunate — Mark Stoneman really ought to have taken a simple outfield catch to dismiss the number three earlier — half-century.

But the break soon proved Khawaja's undoing, or rather a loose drive to a wide Jimmy Anderson delivery did. He was caught by James Vince in the gully and the feeling was the momentum of the match was shifting once again.

Steve Smith is bowled by Craig Overton Photo: Craig Overton's first Test wicket came by hitting the Australian captain's stumps. (AAP: David Maruiz)

Handscomb looked scratchy for most of the evening, characteristically stuck on the crease and nibbling away at anything shorter than a half volley, but was well supported by Smith.

For a while, Smith was more concerned with his running verbal battle with Anderson, who was positioned pitch side and shoulder to shoulder with the non-striking batsman. The encounter threatened to get a little too heated, but umpire Aleem Dar ensured the Aussie skipper focussed on the job at hand.

And it certainly looked like he was — until Overton, on his Test debut, somehow managed to find the slightest gap between Smith's bat and pad, taking a little of each en route to the middle stump. As first Test wickets go, the imperious Australian captain for 40 is up there with the best Overton could have hoped for.

That left a tricky 90 minutes or so for Australia to negotiate, but an unfamiliar backbone was soon on display as Handscomb and Shaun Marsh dug in to reach stumps without any more damage.

It sets up an intriguing second day, when Australia can hope to bat through the best of the conditions and hope to hit England hard under lights later on Sunday.

External Link: Second Ashes Test scorecard

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