Usman Khawaja flung his bat in the air in delight after scoring his first test century in England and he dragged Australia back into the first Ashes test as they reached 311-5 at the close on day two, trailing by 82 runs.
Stuart Broad’s two wickets in two balls, dismissing David Warner for the 15th time and inflicting a first golden duck in international cricket on Marnus Labuschagne, had got England off to a perfect start on Saturday.
Australia were struggling on 78-3 at lunch after Ben Stokes took the key wicket of talisman Steve Smith, but supported by Travis Head, Khawaja stood firm and led the recovery.
After celebrating his ton with real energy and emotion, Khawaja was bowled by Broad when on 112, but was handed a reprieve as a no ball was given against the England fast bowler.
That stroke of luck was deserved for his determination under pressure, however, as he almost single-handedly kept the touring side in the game at Edgbaston.
“I was getting stick from the crowd as I am walking out there saying that I can’t score runs in England, so I guess I was a bit more emotional than normal,” Khawaja said.
“It’s not that I have a point to prove, it’s just nice to show I can score runs. I am happy to be out there and show the real me. I don’t know why I threw my bat in the air, but that is me.
“The way England batted yesterday was really entertaining. I understand why people like it, but nobody will care how you win, whether you score at three an over or six an over. This is why test cricket is the beautiful.”
England’s decision to declare on day one was surprising and the move came under further scrutiny after they failed to take a wicket before the close of play.
The hosts did not need long to make inroads on Saturday, however, with Broad again proving to be Warner’s nemesis as the Australian opener dragged the ball on to his stumps to depart for nine.
Ranked the number one test batter in world cricket, much was expected of Labuschagne, only for Broad’s swing, in overcast conditions, to find the edge and put England in a strong position.
Smith looked in fine fettle before Stokes, bowling despite his recent knee injury problems, trapped the Australia number four lbw for 16.
Head loosened the shackles after lunch to get the scoreboard ticking over at a rate more akin to England’s aggressive batting approach before being caught off spinner Moeen Ali just after reaching his half century.
Moeen bowled Cameron Green for 38 with a brilliant ball, but Khawaja held firm, punching the air as he reached three figures for the 15th time in test cricket.
England wasted chances in the final session with wicketkeeper Jonny Bairstow fluffing a simple opportunity to stump Green on his second ball and dropping a routine chance off Alex Carey who reached his 50 before the close to leave the game finely poised.