A Steven Smith century and his sterling partnership with comeback man Glenn Maxwell, along with an untimely Virat Kohli injury, put Australia firmly in the driver’s seat after Day 1 of the Ranchi Test against India. Follow all the action of Day 2 from 3pm (AEDT) here on The Roar.
Australian captain Smith, who had won the toss and elected to bat, brought up his 19th Test hundred to see his side through to 4-299 at stumps.
The day started off promisingly as Matt Renshaw provided good resistance at one end while David Warner looked to be in his elements.
After the two had brought up a 50-run stand for the first wicket, India got their first breakthrough when Ravindra Jadeja dismissed Warner for 19 runs. Jadeja, who had conceded a boundary in the previous ball, bowled a shin-high full toss to Warner, who instead of sending it into the top tier of the stands hit it straight into the bowler’s hands.
That brought Smith out to the centre and the skipper played the waiting game. Renshaw, who got off to yet another good start, was next to be dismissed, as Umesh Yadav struck in the 23rd over.
The third wicket fell towards the end of the first session, with Cheteshwar Pujara holding on to a good catch off Shaun Marsh’s edge following a good delivery from Ravichandran Ashwin.
Australia went into lunch at 3-109, with Smith and Peter Handscomb in the middle. The two batsmen looked solid at the beginning of the post-lunch session, while Yadav was generating reverse swing, eventually trapping Handscomb plum in front.
It proved to be the last wicket of the day, as Smith and Maxwell first saw Australia past the 200-run mark, then hit the accelerator in the final session, finishing up with Smith on 117 and Maxwell 82.
While it was the ninth hundred away from home for Smith, Maxwell’s innings showed just how much he has improved. For a man, who is better known for hitting the ball out of the park at every opportunity, to claim his first boundary of the innings on his 56th delivery is testament to how much work he has put in. This pair will be crucial for Australia if they can survive the first hour on Day 2.
India’s best opportunity to break this partnership is likely to come early, but the home side do not have a recognised fifth bowler, which could prove a problem if they end up bowling a lot of overs.
Kohli’s shoulder injury will be an added concern, with some media outlets reporting that he has been ruled out of the Test. Regardless, his injury makes the task that much harder for the hosts.
Follow the live scores and blog of the second day of this third Test between India and Australia from 3pm (AEDT) here on The Roar.