PERTH: A maiden Test century by Dawid Malan helped England fight back to 305 for four at stumps in the opening day of the vital third Ashes clash in Perth on Thursday.
After Joe Root won the toss and elected to bat, Malan’s unbeaten 110 helped the tourists to breathe life back into their Ashes defence by countering hostile bowling on a bouncy WACA Ground wicket hosting an Ashes Test for the last time.
Already down 2-0 in the five-match series, the visitors were wavering at 131 for four against some fiery pace bowling, but Malan steadied the innings with an unbroken 174-run stand for the fifth wicket alongside Jonny Bairstow (75 not out), England’s highest partnership of the series.
England overcame the controversial dismissal of opener Mark Stoneman for 56 on a third-umpire decision, and their cause was helped by some generosity from the Australian fielders, who dropped three catches and missed a run out.
Malan was one of the chief beneficiaries as the 30-year-old notched his first century in his eighth Test, and England’s first hundreds of the series.
He would have been run out for 32 if David Warner had managed a direct hit, and was dropped by Cameron Bancroft in the slips on 92.
He steadied his nerves to notch up his century with a powerful pull shot off Josh Hazlewood, having faced 159 balls in 221 minutes at the crease, hitting 13 fours and one six.
Malan came to the crease with England under pressure against short-pitched bowling from Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins, and survived early on by chancing his arm against the rising ball.
He lived dangerously at first, but having survived the onslaught showed plenty of resolve as he settled into his innings and teamed up with Bairstow to build a crucial partnership.
It was just what England needed after Australia’s pace trio came out breathing fire after the lunch break.
They terrorised the English with aggressive bowling that was often more than 90 miles per hour, with Stoneman dropped twice on 52 and struck a fierce blow on the helmet while on the same score.
Stoneman survived all that, only to be contentiously given out caught behind off his glove to Starc by third umpire Aleem Dar for 56.