Steve Smith roared back into form with a sensational unbeaten half century in Australia's impressive win over England, in the opening game of their one-day international (ODI) series.
Having been left out of all but one game in Australia's recent T20 World Cup campaign, Smith had a point to prove as he notched an unbeaten 80 to allow Australia to cruise home with 19 balls to spare.
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Australia's six-wicket win came after a Dawid Malan century saw England climb to a respectable 9-287 off their 50 overs, following a top-order collapse that left the visitors reeling at 4-66.
Smith sealed victory with a towering six after openers David Warner (86 runs) and Travis Head (69) had set up the home side's superb chase with a 147-run first-wicket stand.
For Smith and cricket fans around the world, it was a sight to behold as the former captain occupied the crease with a refined technique and sense of authority not seen for quite some time.
At one point during his swashbuckling innings, Smith could be seen sharing a moment with batting partner Warner, when cameras picked him up mouthing the words: "I'm back baby!"
Smith's declaration - which should serve as an ominous warning to his rivals - lit up social media as fans celebrated the Aussie batter's masterclass.
— DW Stan❤️ (@122Manchester) November 17, 2022
I am back, baby..♥️ Love You Smudge..😘
Steve Smith in ODIs since 2020
Innings : 18
Runs scored : 992
Average : 66.13
Strike Rate : 93.05
4 centuries pic.twitter.com/laA6QrssB8
— Avinash Aryan (@AvinashArya09) November 17, 2022
— News Cricket (@NewsCorpCricket) November 17, 2022
Steve Smith at his best is magic to watch ✨#AUSvENG
— cricket.com.au (@cricketcomau) November 17, 2022
— NJ (@cricketfreaket) November 17, 2022
Just Saw the highlights and you can clearly see the Steve Smith from years ago. He's BACK. #AUSvENG
— MK (@mudkhal) November 17, 2022
Steve Smith is back 🏏♥️
— Fine Legs 🇵🇰. (@finelegs12) November 17, 2022
"We came in here really fresh after a week (off after the exit at the T20 World Cup) and keen to come back into it, and it showed," Aussie captain Pat Cummins said.
"Classic Smithy has been working the house down in the nets so to be fluent from ball one was awesome, we know his class."
Pat Cummins begins reign as ODI skipper in style
Australia's six-wicket win in the first of a three-game series meant Pat Cummins' reign as Australia's ODI skipper began in style, after he added white-ball duties to his Test captaincy role.
After winning the toss and electing to field first, Australia kept England to 9-287 despite Malan's majestic ton - the opener responding to his absence from England's T20 World Cup triumph by smashing a career-best 134.
England's total always appeared below-par as Warner and new opening partner Head went about their business in an opening stand that left the visitors shellshocked.
The 35-year-old's second ODI century helped England to a respectable total after the visitors found themselves in early trouble at 4-66.
England opted not to risk Malan for Sunday's T20 World Cup final against Pakistan at the MCG as the left-hander recovered from a groin injury.
But the No.3 played a lone hand for the tourists against an Australian attack determined to bounce back from a disappointing early World Cup exit.
Malan offered a chance when he was on 33, smashing a cut shot, but a diving Ashton Agar put down what would have been a classic catch.
Having reacted quickly to run out Liam Dawson on 11, the Australian allrounder had another highlight late in the innings, stopping what looked a certain six when he dived over the boundary and flung the ball back into play.
Cummins (3-62) removed opener Phil Salt and No.4 James Vince in quick succession to have England reeling, while Mitchell Starc bowled Jason Roy with a terrific in-swinger.
England captain Jos Buttler was one of only three players to back up on Thursday after Sunday night's T20 World Cup final, along with Salt and quick Chris Jordan.
"(I'm) not fussed about the result at all, it's all about the character we showed," Buttler said.
"We want to play in a certain way, we tried to do that with the bat, we played with intent."
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