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Smith and Maxwell have Aussies in control at 4-299 in Ranchi

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    Steve Smith’s century and Glenn Maxwell’s breakthrough performance pushed Australia to 4-299 at stumps on day one of the third Test against India.

    Smith and Maxwell dominated the hosts on Thursday, sharing an unbeaten 159-run stand in Ranchi.

    It is already Australia’s highest fifth-wicket Test partnership in India and comfortably the highest stand in the ongoing four-Test series.

    Smith’s class, Maxwell’s composure, India’s misfields and Virat Kohli’s shoulder injury have handed Australia the perfect platform to push for a victory that will ensure they retain the Border-Gavaskar trophy.

    Smith won arguably the most important toss of his career then batted for 320 minutes with the same determination he has showed throughout the series, finishing 117 not out.

    Kohli will have scans on Thursday afternoon, having injured himself diving to stop a boundary. Vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane failed to inspire teammates or come up with fields that made Smith or Maxwell sweat.

    “It’s two different captains. Kohli and Rahane probably do things a bit differently, but I didn’t really notice things that were different,” Matt Renshaw said.

    Renshaw noted even before Kohli left the field, India were a lot less chirpy compared to the preceding Test. Kohli and Smith had a pre-match meeting with match referee Richie Richardson, who encouraged them to ensure there weren’t as many blow-ups and send-offs as what transpired in Bangalore.

    “They still came out pretty hard but I think there just probably weren’t as many words out there today,” the 20-year-old opener said.

    “But they still played pretty hard cricket and made it tough for us.”

    Widely expected to be the worst pitch of the three produced in the series so far, Smith made it look remarkably flat but would have worried about running out of partners when the visitors slipped to 4-140.

    Maxwell, playing the fourth Test of his career and first since 2014, steadied with his longest ever international innings in any format.

    The allrounder finished 82 not out after facing 147 deliveries. He waited some 56 balls before striking a boundary.

    It was a different kind of potency to what Maxwell has demonstrated in ODI and Twenty20 cricket, but exactly what Australia needed. Maxwell’s dig was notably the highest score by an Australian No.6 since Smith’s century against South Africa in 2014.

    “He’s a class player and he showed that he could do it in Test cricket,” Renshaw said.

    “You hear about this in the media a lot, that he’s a bit of a cowboy.

    “But he just played some good cricket shots today.”

    The body language of Rahane, who threw the ball to part-timer Murali Vijay late and would have dismissed Maxwell for 74 if he opted for a review, suggested he’d almost ran out of ideas to dismiss the two well-set batsmen.

    “Tomorrow’s first session is going to be one of the most crucial in this match,” Renshaw said.

    “If we can win that session we go a long way to winning the Test.”

    © AAP 2018

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    The Crowd Says (42)

    • March 16th 2017 @ 11:45pm
      Rabbits said | March 16th 2017 @ 11:45pm | ! Report

      Everyone agree with me: Steve Smith is the best batsman today.

      AB de Villiers, Joe Root Virat Kohli, Kane Williamson et al are behind this man.

      And to think he started out as a leg spinner who could bat a bit.

      • March 17th 2017 @ 5:38am
        Rob JM said | March 17th 2017 @ 5:38am | ! Report

        Smith is the best test batsmen.
        Kohli is the best batsmen across all formats.
        Daylight is second in both categories.

        • March 17th 2017 @ 5:55am
          Andy og said | March 17th 2017 @ 5:55am | ! Report

          There’s only one format that matters and Smith is the king.

        • March 17th 2017 @ 6:47am
          Jameswm said | March 17th 2017 @ 6:47am | ! Report

          Kohli is only the best acros all 3 formats because Smith hasn’t done a lot in T20s. Kohli takes them a lot more seriously.

          Smith has completely outbatted Kohli this series, in conditions tailor made for Kohli.

        • March 17th 2017 @ 11:17am
          matth said | March 17th 2017 @ 11:17am | ! Report

          ABDV has a better average in tests and ODI’s than Kohli. So to say there is daylight second in limited overs is not quite right. ABDV is definitely in the discussion.

          • March 17th 2017 @ 11:41am
            BurgyGreen said | March 17th 2017 @ 11:41am | ! Report

            Kohli blows AB away in T20 internationals, in which AB has been fairly disappointing over his career. They are about on par in the Test and ODI arenas. So Kohli is the clear all-format king for me.

            However, in discussions about all-time greatness, Tests are what matter to me. If both Smith and Kohli retired today I would rate Smith much higher than Kohli. He has pulled lightyears clear of the pack in the long format.

    • March 17th 2017 @ 12:14am
      Craig said | March 17th 2017 @ 12:14am | ! Report

      I saw a tweet from Michael Vaughan which said something like “Steve Smith is the best player ever who started out as ordinary” – along those lines anyway.

      Smith was rubbish when he was first in test cricket, an average spinner and a worse bat. The transformation is amazing.

      • Roar Guru

        March 17th 2017 @ 1:53am
        JGK said | March 17th 2017 @ 1:53am | ! Report

        Huh? Worse bat?

        He topped the Shield batting averages the season before he made his debut.

        He top scored with 77 in his second ever Test.

        He has never gone 3 tests in a row without scoring a 50.

        Even before his breakout maiden ton at the Oval in 2013 he was averaging 30 in Test cricket (about the same as Phil Hughes and Ed Cowans’ career averages and, dare I say it, the same average as one Michael Vaughan at the same stage of their careers).

        • March 17th 2017 @ 5:26am
          Matthew H said | March 17th 2017 @ 5:26am | ! Report

          Agree, it was clear that Smith would become a very very good cricketer from his early outings.

          • March 18th 2017 @ 12:20am
            Craig said | March 18th 2017 @ 12:20am | ! Report

            he selected to bat at 8 and was a spinner when he first t started….

            He played 2 tests in 2010, one in 2011 and didn’t return until 2013. How exactly was it clear that a number 8 plodder who took 3 years to cement a position, was going to become the worlds best batsman?

      • March 17th 2017 @ 5:41am
        Rob JM said | March 17th 2017 @ 5:41am | ! Report

        Steve Waugh was pretty ordinary to start. Admittedly he was playing the West Indies in its prime.

        • March 17th 2017 @ 7:38am
          George said | March 17th 2017 @ 7:38am | ! Report

          Actually Waugh didn’t play the Windies till the 1988/89 series. But yes he was a slow starter.

          • March 17th 2017 @ 9:46am
            E-Meter said | March 17th 2017 @ 9:46am | ! Report

            They were still the best at the time.

    • March 17th 2017 @ 2:24am
      dave said | March 17th 2017 @ 2:24am | ! Report

      Smith Warner and Renshaw played exactly how we expected.
      Maxwell played the opposite of what everyone expected.
      I guess knowing that if he scored less than 50 his international test career would be over might have been inspiration.If he got 20 tests to cement his spot he may not have been so determined.
      That said he could score a double ton and maybe still never play another test.

      • Roar Rookie

        March 17th 2017 @ 3:57am
        El Loco said | March 17th 2017 @ 3:57am | ! Report

        Speak for yourself re Maxwell dave. I’ve been eagerly anticipating his opportunity and had faith he could dig in, as he has on many occasions that plenty choose to forget.

        • March 17th 2017 @ 3:07pm
          dave said | March 17th 2017 @ 3:07pm | ! Report

          Sorry my post was a bit confusing.
          I’m a big Maxwell fan and feel we have missed out on a lot of good years by not picking him earlier.
          I was just trying to point out how he’s been so unfairly treated i.e. anything under 50 and he’s dropped.While Mitch gets 20 tests based on potential.

      • Roar Rookie

        March 17th 2017 @ 7:52am
        Kalon Huett said | March 17th 2017 @ 7:52am | ! Report

        If you believe that then you haven’t been paying attention either to how Maxwell plays cricket or what astute cricket followers have been saying. That is exactly how I expected him to bat in that situation, just as he did in the ODI last summer when we needed him to play a mature innings. Do you know why? Because he’s not some machine you set to 10 when you bought it and you can’t get it to ever stop operating on full speed. He’s perfectly capable of reading a match scenario and changing gears. He’s also just supremely talented and sometimes he plays a risky shot and gets out. So does everyone. Renshaw has been dismissed twice in Test cricket already having a massive heave down the ground. Nobody cares because of his solid reputation. If Maxwell got out playing the same shots he’d be dropped for two years.

        Basically if the ability to mix defence with calculated aggression is not what you expected of Maxwell, then you don’t know cricket and you’re the reason it is so frustrating for other cricket fans who clearly see what Maxwell would bring to the table.

        Just imagine Maxwell getting 20 Tests like Mitch Marsh has. He could very well have cemented his place as a key member of this team. He wouldn’t be averaging 20 I’d bet. At least you know he’s going to have days where he really turns it on. Marsh, Maddinson, Doolan, Cartwright, a long list of players tried and discarded … and we could have picked Maxwell years ago, stuck with him, and reaped the benefits.

        • March 17th 2017 @ 11:19am
          matth said | March 17th 2017 @ 11:19am | ! Report

          Hear, hear.

    • March 17th 2017 @ 4:27am
      Ironmonger said | March 17th 2017 @ 4:27am | ! Report

      I am so excited by Maxwell getting a big score. I’d love for him to hold down the number 6 spot. Having the spot nailed down is the difference between good teams and great teams who can take a match from any position

      • Roar Guru

        March 17th 2017 @ 8:12am
        Chris Kettlewell said | March 17th 2017 @ 8:12am | ! Report

        Agreed. Really happy to see how he’s batting too. Most of the big scores he’s made in Shield cricket for Victoria seem to have been done at a run a ball or better, suggesting he’s often just gone for it and if it comes off he gets a hundred if it doesn’t then he gets a low score. Here he seems to be really using his brain and playing a proper test innings. It’s great to see. He’s always seemed like the sort of player who’s got the talent but too often leaves his brain in the dressing room when he goes out to bat.

        Hopefully this innings is the start of putting to rest the #6 spot for a while yet.

    • March 17th 2017 @ 4:32am
      Ironmonger said | March 17th 2017 @ 4:32am | ! Report

      I don’t know how others feel, but ever since the first session in the first test I’ve felt that the little things were going the Aussies way. From the ball bouncing off the batsmen foot straight to short leg or the missed review off Maxi’s glove there’s been some pieces of good fortune that have helped the Aussies along.

      • March 17th 2017 @ 6:06am
        Perry Bridge said | March 17th 2017 @ 6:06am | ! Report

        #Ironmonger

        Yeah – like the 4 drops and non LBWs on Smith in the first test century –

        about the only one Australia got wrong was the Shaun Marsh non review in the 2nd innings at Bengaluru.

    • March 17th 2017 @ 5:33am
      Matthew H said | March 17th 2017 @ 5:33am | ! Report

      I have a strong feeling that many, like me, when the score was 4/140 got a little squirmy in our seats. The problem No. 6 spot coming in and with no disrespect to Glenn Maxwell he was seemingly just the latest in a string of 6’s and no Mitchell Starc in the tail either. Wow, what a great, great performance. The partnership was exceptional. Both batsmen just looked comfortable, not something I’m accustomed to when watching the Aussies bat in India. These two have made a big score possible, who knows if it’s needed but it certainly doesn’t hurt. Love the fact that the Indians have to field while the pitch is playing well too. How many can Aus make now?

      • March 17th 2017 @ 5:45am
        Rob JM said | March 17th 2017 @ 5:45am | ! Report

        Before the test some had dismissively asked “would you want Maxwell coming in at 4 for 140?’
        Ironic!

      • March 17th 2017 @ 6:49am
        Jameswm said | March 17th 2017 @ 6:49am | ! Report

        I was very annoyed a 4 for 140. The wicket wasn’t that bad ad we threw some wickets away, esp Renshaw of all people!

        • March 17th 2017 @ 7:35am
          Adsa said | March 17th 2017 @ 7:35am | ! Report

          Think you will find Warner was the opening bat that threw away his wicket. Caught and bowled without firing a shot.

        • March 17th 2017 @ 9:39am
          AlanC said | March 17th 2017 @ 9:39am | ! Report

          It was the several deliveries before Renshaw’s dismissal that got him out – excellent bowling from Umesh – the get out shot in isolation looked bad but you needed to see the leadup.

          • March 17th 2017 @ 9:45am
            BurgyGreen said | March 17th 2017 @ 9:45am | ! Report

            I think the leadup makes it look even worse – he’d almost got out the ball before in the exact same manner, yet he played the same shot again to a wide one with a full slip cordon in place. It was a ball that should’ve been left, plain and simple.

            • March 17th 2017 @ 11:10am
              AlanC said | March 17th 2017 @ 11:10am | ! Report

              Then you don’t understand the build up of pressure that can result in a batsman playing at a ball that should have been left, plain and simple.

              • March 17th 2017 @ 11:33am
                BurgyGreen said | March 17th 2017 @ 11:33am | ! Report

                The buildup of pressure doesn’t force him to play the shot. It’s a factor, but he still should’ve decided not to. The fact that he almost got out in the same way the ball before outweighs the pressure.

                And don’t take this as me bagging Renshaw out. I am a huge fan of his. Doesn’t stop me from calling out a bad shot when I see one.

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