Australia batting mainstay Steve Smith shut all the ‘outside noise’ as he roared back to form with a gutsy hundred to take Australia to a decent 338 against India in the third test at the Sydney Cricket Ground on Friday. Under pressure after a string of low scores, Smith scored his 27th Test hundred to script a fantastic turnaround for the hosts after the loss at MCG. With this ton, Smith also equalled the likes of Virat Kohli, Graeme Smith, and Allan Border to score 27 centuries in the longer format. However, Smith took only 136 innings in reaching the milestone that helped him beat Kohli (141), Sachin Tendulkar (141), Sunil Gavaskar (54) and Mathew Hayden (157) in the tally. He became the second-fastest to the mark – only behind Sir Don Bradman – 70 innings.Also Read - IND vs NZ, 1st Test: Time Wasted By Umpires Might Have Robbed India a Test Win vs New Zealand, ICC Need to Rethink On Rules of the Game
‘ICC Men’s Test Player of the Decade’ – Smith was under pressure to deliver in the ongoing Border-Gavaskar trophy after below-par outings in the first two Tests. He had managed to score a total of 10 runs in the four innings. Thje 31-year-old’s 27th hundred – 131 off 226 balls – and his 100-run stand with Marnus Labuschagne – 91 off 196 balls, laid the foundation of decent first innings total for the hosts, the Indian bowlers should be lauded for a grand comeback on a flat deck. Also Read - IPL 2022 Retention LIVE Updates: Reports Suggest Team Lucknow Ready to Offer KL Rahul Rs 20 Cr
The former Australia captain also became the player with most Test hundreds against India – 8 centuries – joint-most with Sir Garfield Sobers, Viv Richards, and Ricky Ponting. Smith, who celebrated his ton with a big roar and fist pump, told Fox Cricket at the drinks break, “I’m reading a lot of things people say that I’m out of form but think I think there’s a difference between out of form and out of runs. Just nice to score a few and maybe keep a few people quiet.” Also Read - Ajinkya Rahane, Mayank Agarwal, Cheteshwar Pujara, Shubman Gill or Shreyas Iyer - Who Makes Way For Virat Kohli in Second Test?
Meanwhile, Indian all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja shared the spotlight with him by claiming four wickets during the first two sessions of the third Test’s second day in Sydney on Friday. At tea, India held the slight upper-hand after reaching 26 for no loss with Shubman Gill – 14 batting – and Rohit Sharma – 11 batting – at the crease, having safely negotiated nine overs.
There was a point when Australia were cruising along at 206 for 2 but Jadeja – 18-3-62-4 – and the ever-dependable Jasprit Bumrah – 2/66 – put India back in the game with their controlled bowling on an unresponsive track.
In fact, Jadeja literally got a ‘five-for’ as his brilliant direct throw from the deep ended Smith’s knock just when he had decided to throw the kitchen sink at the bowlers.
The first two sessions can be ideally described as fascinating with Australia getting 172 runs in just under 51 overs, largely due to some positive batting by Smith, Labuschagne and down the order Mitchell Starc – 24 off 30 balls.
But Jadeja and Bumrah, especially with the second new ball, were on target even as debutant Navdeep Saini – 2/65 – leaked a few runs due to sheer inexperience.
The Sydney track didn’t have much help for the slow bowlers in the first two days but that didn’t deter Jadeja from denying Labuschagne a deserving hundred.
In a stop-start first session, Labuschagne, who was looking good on 91, got an arm ball from Jadeja, which bounced a bit more denying him room for a non-existent cut shot.
The result was a smart catch by skipper Ajinkya Rahane, who positioned himself a bit wide at the first slip. Labuschagne’s 196-ball innings had 11 boundaries and no one deserved a three-figure score more than him.
Labuschagne and Smith, in their bid to neutralise India’s leg-side field, played some eye-catching strokes.