Nobody gave Australia the ghost of a chance to beat India in India, but it’s now a reality thanks to Steve Smith.
Not only has the Australian skipper shown the way with the bat, but he’s got right up the nose of his Indian counterpart Virat Kohli who is having his worst ever series.
Ler’s not forget India is ranked the world’s best Test team by a considerable margin – India 121, Australia second with 109, but hard pressed by South Africa’s 107.
There have been only four centuries scored in this series, Smith has two.
His scorecard reads 27, 109, 8, 28, and 178* for 340 runs at an average of 85 well above his world class career average of 61.46. His powers of concentration and patience shine through in facing 758 deliveries.
It is an incredible transformation from a career that began with Smith batting 8, 9, 8, 8, 6. 6. 6. 6. 7, and 7 in his first ten digs that netted 267 runs at 29.67 – a very healthy average for a tailender.
Now he’s the world’s premier Test batsman, and has been for sometime, with 19 centuries to his credit and a lot more in store.
Cheteshwar Pujera, ranked sixth in the world, is keeping India in the hunt after a slow start with 6, 31, 17, 92, and 130* for 276 at 68, well above his career average of 49.90, facing 736 deliveries.
But Kohli, ranked four, and David Warner, ranked five, have been well below their normal firepower.
Kohli’s 0, 13. 12, 15, and 6 for 46 at 9.38 has come as a shock to everyone, while Warner’s in much the same boat with 38, 10, 33, 17, and 19 for 117 at 23.40.
Yet he’s managed a start in every innings, but hasn’t gone on with it – very un-Warner-like.
But a rarely mentioned stat has the Australians in control
They have scored 1384 runs in this series to average 27.68 a dismissal, compared to India’s 1035 at 22.50.
But apart from Steve Smith’s superb batting, the rebirth of expressman Pat Cummins after a litany of injuries has been spectacular, and welcomed, after a break of five and half years since his debut in Johannesburg.
For the then 18-year-old to win the man of the match award, after grabbed 6-79 off 29, and hit the winning runs in the 310-run chase.
Cummins’ figures were not only impressive, but his scalps were right up there with the best – Jacques Rudolph (24), Jacques Kallis (2). AB de Villiers (73), Vernon Philander (23), Dale Steyn (41), and Morne Morkel for a duck.
Yesterday the now 23-year-old, in only his second Test, grabbed 4-59 off 25 in another impressive display.
This Test is heading for a draw, leaving the fourth and final Test at Dharamsala as the series decider.
Expect Steve Smith and Pat Cummins to steer the baggy greens home.