An unbeaten, fifth-wicket stand of 159 between Steven Smith (117*) and Glenn Maxwell (82*) saw Australia survive the final session unscathed, as they cruised to 299 for 4 at stumps on day one of the third Test in Ranchi.
Steven Smith’s patient hundred on a surface that played far better than appearances had suggested has given his team a real chance of unseating India at home and reclaiming the Bordar-Gavaskar trophy, with series currently leveled at 1-all. On the other end, Glenn Maxwell showed great composure, as he resiliently battled alongside his captain to put his team in a commanding position on what is comfortably the best 22-yards prepared so far in the series.
It marked 19th Test century for Smith, nine of which came in overseas conditions, as he achieved another personal milestone — becoming third-fastest Aussie to reach 5000 Test runs in 97 innings, just behind Mathew Hayden and Sir Donald Bradman. The achievement becomes more special considering he started his career as a leg-spinner against Pakistan at Lords in 2010.
Earlier in the day, David Warner (19) continued his poor run as he erred on a full toss by Jadeja, only to hand a return catch. Renshaw played well for his steady 44, but failed to go make it big as he edged one to Virat Kohli at second slip. Peter Handscomb was accounted a swerving inswinger from Umesh Yadav, who looked the most threatening bowler from India, while a successful DRS call from India saw the back of Shaun Marsh, who was caught at short leg by Pujara via bat and pad.
The viral moment of the day came when India’s keeper-batsman Wriddiman Saha bumped into Smith as he attempted to collect a Jadeja ball that had stuck between his padded legs, which was later declared ‘dead-ball’ as per rules.
Former Australian great Ricky Ponting acknowledged Smith’s brilliance with the bat, as he predicted the current skipper may finish only second to Don Bradman in record books, better than him.
“If Smithy keeps maintaining what he’s doing now for another 100 Tests then he probably will end up being a better player than me,” Ponting said in February.
“He’s not doing much wrong at the moment, is he? I know he’s got great passion and got great drive to be the best player he can be and probably the best player the world has ever seen, which is a great attitude to have.
“I wanted to be the best player in the world as well and I wanted to be able to sustain it for a long period of time. And that’s what really separates the great players; how long you can actually sustain a high level of excellence.”
Speaking to Star Sports, Smith lauded Maxwell for his patient stay at the crease.
“He played beautifully, stuck to his game plan the whole time, played nice and straight and hit the loose ball,” Smith said to Star Sports about Maxwell’s knock.
“That’s all you need to do, it’s pretty simple and he batted like he has been in the nets.
“He’s been hitting the ball really well so he got an opportunity and he’s making the most of it.”