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Smith superb double ton pulverizes woeful England
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Smith superb double ton pulverizes woeful England

Steve Smith continued to torment the England bowlers for his fourth successive innings in the series as he returned to international cricket with a stunning double century on the second day of the fourth Ashes Test.

Smith's imperious 211 was the hallmark of Australia's authoritative first innings total of 497-8 declared.

To hammer in Australia's dominance over the day's proceedings, England then lost makeshift opener Joe Denly just before stumps leaving them in a precarious position at 23-1.

Regular opener Rory Burns will resume batting on the third day with nightwatchman Craig Overton on the other end.

Facing the prospect of a massive defeat that could effectively put an end to all hopes of regaining the Ashes urn, England are still 474 runs behind the visitors' mammoth total.

Smith had to sit out England's enthralling one-wicket win at Headingley due to a concussion he suffered when he received a nasty blow from a Jofra Archer bouncer.

The star batsman showed few signs of uneasiness while facing an exaggerated bumper barrage from the England pacers on Thursday.

Smith needed only three innings to dethrone Virat Kohli to reclaim the number one position in the ICC Test rankings for batsmen and with his third Ashes double century, he now occupies the leading run-getter slot this year.

Smith boasts 589 runs under his belt this series at a gargantuan average of 147.25.

He had earlier starred with twin centuries in Australia's thumping 251-run win at Edgbaston - his first match after the expiry of his 12-month ban due to ball-tampering.

Costly reprieve

Although the majority of Smith's sublime knock was flawless, the hosts were guilty of spilling a couple of chances offered by the 30-year-old.

While batting on 65, Archer failed to collect the ball in his follow-through from a full-bloodied drive launched by Smith.

Later, Smith was dismissed by Jack Leach off a no-ball causing him to make the way back to the pitch after heading halfway to the pavilion.

These two let-offs fed confidence into Smith's impressive 319-ball stay at the crease as he produced a batting masterclass for the ages.

He was eventually out off the bowling of skipper Joe Root while trying to surge the scoring rate.

Australia captain Tim Paine finally registered his first half-century of the series after a string of failures.

He forged a dogged sixth-wicket partnership of 145 with Smith to propel Australia's charge forward.

Even fast bowler Mitchell Starc got in on the act with a blazing 54 not out from 58 deliveries to put his side in a commanding position.

Australia resumed their overnight score under clear skies unlike Wednesday's rain-marred affair as Smith briefly looked error-prone poking at deliveries outside the off-stump.

Following Archer's drop on a caught and bowled chance, Smith settled into his groove and fashioned delectable drives to find the narrowest gaps in the field.

England also dropped wicketkeeper Paine when he was on nine but Jason Roy grassed the opportunity putting his team's abysmal record of catching in the slips into focus.

Australia kept a high run rate throughout their innings, almost touching 4, with Smith motoring along and Starc capped off his special effort with some lusty blows that crossed the boundary fence.