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The Ashes 2019

Steve Smith proud to 'step up' in challenging conditions

Steve Smith said he was pleased to make an important contribution to Australia's second innings total at Old Trafford on Saturday after a top-order collapse threatened to derail the tourists.

Australia were faltering at 44-4 at one stage before Smith's counter-attacking 82 swiftly raised his side's total to 186-6 declared.

"When it is tough you want your experienced players to step up," he said.

"I have played quite a lot of cricket now. I like to get in those situations and try to be the one to take the team through."

Smith's 92-ball stay at the crease was exemplified by unorthodox strokes allowing him to dispatch the ball to the boundary fence 11 times.

He has now scored 671 runs in five innings during the course of this series at an average of 134.2 including a double century earlier in the ongoing Test.

England's pursuit of the daunting target of 383 was rocked by a double strike from Pat Cummins later in the day as he managed to remove Rory Burns and Joe Root in successive deliveries.

Smith believed Cummins hit the perfect length on an increasingly tough pitch for batsmen.

"My first 20 or 30 balls, I felt pretty vulnerable when they (England) were bowling that good length," he recalled.

"Patty hit it beautifully tonight, I think that ball to Root is a blueprint of what we need to do tomorrow, first thing in the morning, and the quicks to keep hitting that top of the stump length and let the pitch do its thing."