Khawaja, however, returned unbeaten on 126 off 279 balls, striking 14 fours and two sixes in his resilient knock. He found good support from Travis Head (50 off 63), Cameron Green (38 off 68) and Alex Carey (52 not out off 80) as Australia rebuild brilliantly in the last two sessions. They ended the day trailing England by 82 runs.
Australia’s start was quite in contrast to their end. They lost Warner and Labuschagne to Stuart Broad of consecutive deliveries. Warner fell to his nemesis for the 15th time in Test cricket, dragging a wide delivery onto his stumps. Labuschagne then nicked an outswinger, going for a tentative jab. Smith hung around for 59 balls, but was trapped lbw by an in-dipper from Ben Stokes that he missed.
Khawaja and Head then added 81 runs for the fourth wicket. Both batters were severe on Moeen Ali. The latter hit eight fours and a six, but fell exactly after reaching his fifty, miscuing a delivery from Moeen to midwicket. Khawaja was then joined by Green and the two featured in a 72-run stand for the fifth wicket. The latter hit four fours and a six before bowled by a beautifully tossed-up delivery from Moeen.
At the other end, Khawaja went past three figures via a late cut off Stokes. His roaring celebrations and throwing of the bat demonstrated what the knock meant to him. England could have had the Aussie opener on 112 as Broad produced a beauty to knock him over. However, Khawaja survived as the England pacer had overstepped.
Khawaja and Carey ensured Australia finished Day 2 on a high, featuring in an unbroken 91-run stand for the sixth wicket. The latter, who made significant contributions in Australia’s World Test Championship (WTC) final triumph against India, notched up another valuable fifty at a swift pace. He struck seven fours and a six as the Aussies cut down England’s first innings lead to under 85 by stumps. They will now look to build a huge lead on Day 3 in Birmingham.
--By A Cricket Correspondent