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Smith, Wade tons leave England facing uphill task
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Smith, Wade tons leave England facing uphill task

For the second time in the Test match, Steve Smith completed a fairytale comeback to five-day cricket with a sublime hundred to once again lead Australia to a dominant position in the Ashes opener at Edgbaston.

Smith, complemented by centurion Matthew Wade, fronted Australia's charge against England to set the hosts a mammoth target of 398 on the final day.

Ashes-holders Australia look the more probable candidate for gaining the crucial 1-0 lead in the series after they declared at 487-7 in their second innings.

The visitors were helped by England's bowling spearhead James Anderson's absence as the rest of the four-man attack was nullified on a wearing pitch.

England now require 398 for victory - which will be their highest successful fourth-innings chase if they are to achieve it.

Australia's declaration close to stumps left England with a tricky passage of play to negotiate as the openers came out to battle for seven overs.

Rory Burns and Jason Roy, nevertheless, stuck to their task and safely led England to the close of play at 13-0.

Smith was the star of the day, making his second century in the match following an imperious 144 in the first innings.

On the other end, Matthew Wade also making his first Test appearance after a long time away from international cricket, struck a fine 110.

'The spine was tingling' - Smith

Smith completed the 10th century of his Ashes career and became the second-fastest to the landmark of 25 Test centuries after Don Bradman - often revered as the greatest batsman to play the game.

Smith's stunning feat is only the fifth instance of an Australian scoring centuries in both innings of an Ashes Test.

"I'd never scored hundreds in both innings before at any level so I was keen to do that and it's great to get us in a good position," a delighted Smith said to Sky Sports.

"I was very emotional with the first hundred, I was lost for words and had to take a few deep breaths. The spine was tingling a bit."

Smith soaked in the applause in jubilation after he caressed the ball through covers to reach three figures in style off the bowling of Stuart Broad in the second session. 

Smith's passionate celebration saw him waving the bat joyously in the direction of Australia's dressing room where all his mates gave him a standing ovation in the balcony.

Muted applause from sections of the highly partisan crowd greeted him but it was soon displaced by chants of "Crying on the telly, we saw you crying on the telly" referring to his tearful outburst in the aftermath of the ball-tampering scandal in South Africa.

"He knows exactly what he's trying to do, exactly what the opposition are trying to do... he analyses every ball and it's like a computer, he spits out the answer," Australia's mentor for the Ashes Steve Waugh told Channel Nine.

England's spinners failed to exploit the visible rough patches on the pitch as they struggled to grip and turn the ball to a desirable effect.

Wicketkeeper Wade's attacking knock saw him employ the sweep and reverse-sweep shots with great results, one of which brought up his half-century in just 70 deliveries.

The much-anticipated new ball finally did provide England the breakthrough when Chris Woakes had Smith edging a wide delivery to Jonny Bairstow behind the stumps.

The end of Smith though did little to hamper Australia's momentum as Wade marched his way towards a 131-ball century to take control of the proceedings.

Wade's dismissal while trying to up the scoring rate was followed by James Pattinson thumping an unbeaten 48-ball 47 to exhaust the England players in the field.