Another superb Test ton from the very reliable Steve Smith and a career best from the usually very unreliable Glenn Maxwell earned Australia control of the third Test against India at Ranchi on the opening day.
Having won the toss and batted, Smith’s 19th Test century was the ultimate display of concentration. The Australian skipper took 227 deliveries to become the third visiting captain to score two tons in the same seres in India after West Indian Clive Lloyd, who achieved the feat twice, and Englishman Alastair Cook.
Smith also became the third fastest to pass 5000 runs in 53 Tests after Sir Donald Bradman’s 36, and Sunil Gavaskar’s 52.
For the record Sir Jack Hobbs, Matt Hayden and Sir Leonard Hutton took 55, Sir Garfield Sobers 56, Wally Hammond, while Virender Sehwag, Younis Khan, and David Warner each took 59.
Smith’s unbroken 159 for the fifth wicket with Maxwell broke the previous record in India held by the 149 set by Michael Clarke and Matt Wade in 2013.
Maxwell was a revelation. He left his irritating cowboy antics in the shed and settled down to support his skipper with impressive self-control.
To prove the point, Maxwell’s first boundary took 56 deliveries – an unheard of stat.
In his previous three Tests, he had scored 13, 8, 10, 8, 37, and 4 for 80 runs at a miserable 13.33.
Yesterday, he passed his previous career runs facing 147 deliveries, doing himself and his country proud.
Hopefully the cowboy in him is now in the dust bin of history.
The pair resume today with Smith on 117 and Maxwell 82 at 4-299, and a target of around 450 surely in mind, which would realistically make Australia unbeatable on a dicey wicket.
Both Smith and Maxwell had to be very patient to get the job done.
The downside to yesterday was Shaun Marsh’s effort, begging the question of how many failures by the Western Australian before the selectors punt him?
He should never have been selected before Usman Khawaja for the first Test, and since then Marsh has scored 15, 0, 66 and been dropped at 14, 9, and two.
Khawaja must be selected for the fourth and final Test, providing he’s not bored to death and/or sobbing because he’s been watching instead of playing.
David Warner is another disappointment in this series, but his opening partnerships with Matt Renshaw have been spectacular.
Since they first teamed up against South Africa in Adelaide, the pair has posted six 50-plus opening stands in nine starts, with a top score of 151.
It’s early days, but so far they have accumulated 549 runs at 81. That is right up there with Australia’s best.
Bobby Simpson and Bill Lawry posted 3600 runs at 59.01, Matt Hayden and Justin Langer 6081 at 51.53, and Mark Taylor with Michael Slater and their 3887 at 51.14.
Later today, firebrand Pat Cummins will end his six-year-long wait to play his second Test after a spate of injuries.
He was the man of the match on debut aged 18, and today he will make up for lost time.