Usman Khawaja's ninth test century lifted Australia to 321-6 at tea after England had rallied in the middle session with the new ball on the second day of the fourth Ashes Test.

Usman Khawaja’s ninth test century lifted Australia to 321-6 at tea after England had rallied in the middle session with the new ball on the second day of the fourth Ashes Test.

Playing his first test since 2019 and only in the team because of Travis Head’s positive test for COVID-19, Khawaja shared a century partnership with Steve Smith (67) and then anchored Australia’s innings after Stuart Broad struck twice with the second new ball on Thursday.

At tea, Khawaja was unbeaten on 102 off 202 balls, having completed his second century against England in the final over before the break. Australian skipper Pat Cummins was on 15. Usman Khawaja’s wife Rachel McLellan and their daughter Aisha Rahil Khawaja witnessed the proud moment from the stands.

England took the new ball after the lunch interval. It paid immediate dividends as Broad (3-60) found the edge of Smith’s bat with a delivery that moved off the seam and carried through to Jos Buttler, ending the former captain’s 115-run partnership with Khawaja.

Broad struck again four overs later, having Cameron Green (5) caught by Zak Crawley at slip to have Australia at 242-5.

Alex Carey made 13 before lofting a catch to Jonny Bairstow in the deep off Joe Root.

Despite wickets falling around him, Khawaja reached his century off 201 balls, with 11 boundaries to steady the innings. He’d had one reprieve, on 30, when he was dropped by Root off Jack Leach’s bowling.

Khawaja enjoyed the celebration of his century in front of his former home state crowd, holding both arms aloft, raising and pointing his bat toward his team and family members in the historic Members Stand at the Sydney Cricket Ground before embracing his skipper mid-pitch.

Earlier, Smith compiled his 33rd half-century off 116 balls and on the way passed Justin Langer’s career record of 7,696 runs to become Australia’s sixth-highest run-scorer in tests. Playing his 81st match, Smith needed 24 tests fewer than Langer, the current Australia team coach, to reach the mark.

Of concern for England, Ben Stokes left the field after the fifth ball of his 14th over just before lunch. As he left the ground for treatment, the allrounder was clutching at his side.

Stokes returned to the field after lunch but did not bowl.

On Wednesday, sweeping showers permitted only 21 completed overs in the opening two sessions after Australia skipper Pat Cummins won the toss and elected to bat first on a green-tinged SCG pitch, but the match sprang to life in the final session of play.

The returning Broad dismissed David Warner (30) for the 13th time in tests just before tea. Marcus Harris (38) and Marnus Labuschagne (28) were then removed as England’s pace bowlers rebounded late in the day.

Australia has an unassailable 3-0 lead in the five-match series and has retained the Ashes, but England is still aiming to take something from the tour by winning a Test in Australia for the first time in almost a decade.

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