After losing the first two Tests of the 2013 Ashes, it looked for all the world as if Australia would struggle whatever the scenario when the two sides met for the third Test at Old Trafford.
Instead, they began brightly, having won the toss for the first time in the series, and went on to post a very strong 303-3 on day one.
Chris Rogers laid the foundations with a lively 84, his best score in Test cricket to date.
Skipper Michael Clarke then carried on that form, posting Australia's first century of the series. It was his fifth in Ashes Tests and absolutely crucial to his team. It has long been suggested that Australia's fortunes would hinge on their captain's runs and the scorecard reflects that.
For the first time in this Ashes series, the tourists have a great chance to dictate terms for the rest of the Test if they finish the 1st innings as strongly on day two.
Morning session (Australia 92-2)
Rogers flayed the England bowling around and it became clear that the humid, overcast conditions would not assist the bowlers looking for swing.
Shane Watson was more circumspect and he was the first to fall for 19, caught by Alastair Cook at slip off the bowling of Tim Bresnan.
Usman Khawaja was next to go in one of the most controversial incidents of the series so far—one that even moved Australia PM Kevin Rudd to tweet how disappointed he was with the call.
Afternoon session (Australia 180-3)
Rogers looked good for his century but just fell short on 84, sparking fears among the visitors that Australia would once again fold cheaply. However, captain Clarke showed his leadership qualities and, together with Steve Smith, began to build a crucial stand.
Smith survived two very close reviews from England—but both went the way of the batsman, which meant England had no referrals in hand for the remainder of the innings.
Evening session (303-3)
At tea, the game was still fairly even, but Clarke and Smith then took the game away from England with an unbroken 174 by close of play.
Smith grew in confidence as the evening wore on, but he was able to play in the slipstream of Clarke, who showed why he is one of the game's very finest batsman.
His century came from 169 balls and he continued on at that same even pace throughout the session. He moved his feet well to Swann's spin, dealt with the seamers well and repelled the attack of new and old ball alike.
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