Dawid Malan hit his maiden Test match century as England made a strong start to the crucial third Ashes Test in Perth, closing on 305-4.
The left-hander shared an unbeaten fifth-wicket partnership of 174 with Jonny Bairstow (75no) as they helped England recover from 131-4 after the controversial dismissal of Mark Stoneman (56) midway through the afternoon session.
Knowing a defeat would see Australia regain the urn, England required a response after their Adelaide collapse if they were to create history by coming from 2-0 down to win the Ashes and, after a slight wobble after lunch, they got it courtesy of Malan and Bairstow.
England had come quickly out of the blocks after electing to bat first but the dismissal of Alastair Cook (7), trapped lbw as he hung back to a full, 92mph delivery from Mitchell Starc, threatened to knock the tourists out of their stride.
However, Stoneman was quick to attack anything full and James Vince matched the left-hander’s positivity, producing a number of picturesque cover drives to turn up the pressure on the Aussie bowlers.
A stand of 63 looked to have given England the advantage with lunch approaching but in the penultimate over before the interval, having shown great restraint in leaving the ball outside off, Vince (25) relented and nicked behind as he pushed tentatively forward to give Josh Hazlewood his first wicket.
Joe Root came in and signalled his intent by driving Hazlewood for four from the first ball of the afternoon session and swiftly moved to 20, looking in fine touch.
That was as far he went though as Pat Cummins angled a seemingly harmless delivery down leg, only for it to brush Root’s glove as he looked to flick the ball away, allowing Tim Paine to take the catch.
By that point the pressure was already growing on Stoneman, who, having passed fifty, was dropped twice on 52, either side of being hit flush on the helmet by a fierce Hazlewood bouncer.
The first was a regulation chance for Mitchell Marsh at first slip and the next came via another bumper, the ball looping up off the splice of the bat to Nathan Lyon, who was unable to hold on as he dived forward from point – Hazlewood the unlucky bowler on both occasions.
Then came the moment that left England incensed and thrust third umpire Aleem Dar to the forefront of this Ashes Test.
It began with a ripsnorter of a delivery from Starc that reared up towards Stoneman’s throat, brought a noise as the ball whistled past the batsman’s raised gloves and was taken brilliantly one-handed above his head by Paine behind the stumps.
Umpire Marais Erasmus turned down the appeal and despite Australia reviewing, England would have been confident of the decision being upheld as Hotspot and Snicko only showed evidence of the ball hitting the back glove – with the hand not touching the bat handle.
Dar thought otherwise though and instructed Erasmus to reverse his decision meaning, after a brief delay as the England balcony initially told him to stay put, Stoneman (56) had to go.
TV replays later showed the ball may have brushed the front glove but those angles were not asked for by Dar as he made his call.
Bairstow arrived to join Malan with England feeling a sense of injustice but the pair put the decision behind them as they built a partnership to put the visitors in the ascendency by the close.
Malan took on the short ball from the off in a way that no other England player had felt comfortable doing, occasionally riding his luck but picking up plenty of runs for his troubles.
By the time the second new ball was taken, the partnership was worth 140 with the Australian bowlers made to toil.
The new ball provided them with a new lease of life and Malan had a big let off as he edged Starc’s first ball with it towards the slips. He turned round fearing the worst but Cameron Bancroft shelled it at third slip.
That was the last chance he gave as a crisp cover drive took him to 97 and, fittingly, a firm pull shot took him to three figures.
Malan’s hundred seemed to relax both the man himself and Bairstow as the duo played out the remaining overs, allowing them to return on day two aiming to help England rack up a commanding first innings total.