|Third test, Sydney Cricket Ground (second day)|
|Australia 338: Smith 131, Labuschagne 91; Jadeja 4-62|
|Inde 96-2: Gill 50|
|India trail by 242 trails|
Australia’s Steve Smith ended his 16-month wait for a Test 100 on day two of a well-rounded third test against India.
Smith has scored 131 on 226 balls, his first century since the fourth Ashes Test against England in September 2019.
Marnus Labuschagne made 91 but after his fall Smith received little support with the last seven wickets falling to 106 as the hosts were fired for 338.
India fought 96-2 at the close in Sydney, 242 points behind.
Openers Rohit Sharma and Shubman Gill put in 70 for the opening wicket before Rohit was caught and played for 26 by Josh Hazlewood and Gill was caught at Pat Cummins Ravine for 50 years, his first test of a half -century.
The series of four tests is level 1-1, with the final test in Brisbane starting on January 15.
Black-smith. East. Return
No one really doubted it, but after a meager spell, Smith returned on Friday.
The 31-year-old last week lost first place in the trial hitter standings to Kane Williamson from New Zealand.
Despite having gone two centuries in a row in November in Australia’s one-day victory over India, he had only managed 10 points in four rounds in the Test Series, including his first duck in four years in the second test.
The 14 innings between the centuries were the longest stretch of his career since his 22 innings between his debut in 2010 and his 100 in 2013.
He was on average 34 years old in his last silent race – a significant drop from his astonishing career average of 61.33.
Smith’s celebration after hitting a 27th Test 100 suggested relief and frustration rather than happiness …
“It was good to keep people quiet”
Smith’s response, when asked about his century, also suggested he was frustrated with discussions about his form.
“I read a lot of things about out of shape, but I think there is a difference between out of shape and out of the race,” said the former Australia captain.
“It was just nice to score a few and maybe calm a few people down.
“I mean, it’s only been about three or four weeks since I scored two cents at Sydney Cricket Ground. So yeah, it just makes me laugh sometimes when people say that sort of thing. “
Smith had been no less relentless in his preparation heading into the last few matches – his wife Dani posted a video of him on Instagram knocking white in his hotel room the night before the test.
You Can’t Lock Up A Lion For Too Long – Reaction To Smith’s Hundred
How the day went
Smith started the day on the 31st, having shown increased attacking intent early in his innings on Open Day. He hit five fours in his first 25 balls on day one.
He and Labuschagne put Australia through the night 166-2 to 206-2 before Labuschagne edged spinner Ravindra Jadeja to end a 100 partnership.
Australia should have posted a more significant score, but Smith was only able to form small partnerships with the middle and lower orders, with batsmen falling on the cheap. Mitchell Starc, at 24, was the only other Australian to go 20 that day.
Smith, who passed 46 balls in the 90s, hit his 100 with a trademark clip on the pads. He received a loud ovation from the 9,000 spectators allowed inside the Sydney Cricket Ground.
Eventually, he was the last to come out, brilliantly escaping with a direct square-leg hit from Ravindra Jadeja, who also took 4-62.
In response, Rohit and Gill – India’s third different opening partnership in three tests – struck impressive before the two fell within six overs.
Cheteshwar Pujara and captain Ajinkya Rahane hit defensively through to the close and, if they form a meaningful partnership on Saturday, India will be favorites to win this test.
More stats on Smith
- Smith’s hundred was his eighth against India. No player has any more.
- Smith is the second-fastest player to reach 27 centuries of testing, in 136 innings. Only Sir Don Bradman got this faster – 70 innings.
- Smith’s century brought him to the level of Allan Border in terms of centuries of testing for Australia. Only five players – Ricky Ponting, Steve Waugh, Matthew Hayden, Sir Don Bradman and Michael Clarke – have more.
- Smith’s hundred was his first in Australia since the Boxing Day Test against England in 2017, and the first at home since the ball handling scandal.
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