Haddin and Smith rescue Australia

THE ASHES

Steve Smith and Brad Haddin kept Australia on target for a 5-0 Ashes whitewash after coming to the rescue on day one of the Fifth Test in Sydney.

Bowled out for 326, potential man of the series Mitchell Johnson ensured Australia went to stumps on a high when he removed Michael Carberry in a thrilling climax to leave England 1-8 in reply.

After England won their first toss of the series, Australia were sent in to bat and were in trouble when Smith and Haddin came to the crease with the home side reeling at 5-97.

But the pair put on a 128-run sixt-wicket stand which instigated a stunning turnaround, despite England all-rounder Ben Stokes claiming career-best figures of 6-99.

It gave England a nerve-racking six overs to face before close, and once again Johnson (1-3) delivered, with Nathan Lyon taking a superb catch at leg slip.

The day's play followed an all too familiar theme for the series, with England letting Australia off the hook and Johnson making them pay.

Earlier, Smith's 115 was his second century of the summer, and Haddin's 75 made him the first batsman in over 40 years to score a half century in every match of an Ashes series.

The pressure is firmly on England, given their struggling batting order has managed just two totals greater than 300 this series.

Smith was the final wicket to fall, ending an innings that included 17 fours and a six.

Haddin was just as brutal, belting 13 fours in his knock of 75.

The veteran wicket-keeper has now scored four half centuries and a ton from every first innings he has played this series and is in the form of his career.

Batting at No 7, he is the second highest run-scorer this series.

As Haddin blazed his way to another Australian Test innings-saving half century, rumours of his imminent retirement swirled around the SCG.

Thankfully they appear baseless, for now at least, with his manager saying he has given no such indication.

That is the best possible news for Australian fans basking in the glory of a 4-0 Ashes lead.

Without Haddin's typically aggressive 75, and 128-run partnership with Steve Smith, Australia's fortunes on day one of the fifth Ashes Test would've been much more grim.

Despite being 36, Haddin's role for Australian cricket has never been more crucial.

While the resurgent Johnson has produced some devastating spells to seal three man-of-the-match awards in the opening four Tests, Haddin could mount a serious argument for deserving man-of-the-series honours.

It has been Haddin's counter-attacking, street-fighter attitude which has rescued Australia in four of the five Tests to date.

The pugnacious nature of his innings earned praise from former Australian skipper Allan Border, a scrapper in his own right.

"Five times in a row ... I don't know if I've seen it better," Border said.

Australian openers David Warner and Chris Rogers went cheaply, and Michael Clarke and Shane Watson followed before lunch, with Stokes, Stuart Broad and James Anderson sharing the spoils.

Selectors gave George Bailey another chance at No 6, making this Australia side the first to field an unchanged XI through a five-match series.

However, the romanticism couldn't he edged Broad for 1.

Stokes was on a hat-trick when he dismissed Ryan Harris (22) and Peter Siddle (0).

And although he missed the milestone, he also claimed Smith in the same over to end the innings in a flurry. - AAP

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