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by Chetan Narula Saturday 27 December 2014
If the third Test hung in balance at the end of day one, a man in golden form made sure that it wouldn’t be the case at the end of day two.
Steve Smith struck his third successive Test hundred, a second consecutive Test hundred in his second game in-charge and his seventh overall in a career spanning 25 matches, wherein he also crossed 2000 runs overall.
“It felt pretty good at the crease and things are working well for me. It is nice and I think the most pleasing thing about it is that we got 530 runs on the board.”
“I think that’s a very good first innings total for us,” said Smith on Saturday, after scoring a career-best 192.
The hosts started their day at 259 for five and Smith was involved in a 110-run stand for the sixth wicket with Haddin (55) and 106 runs for the 7th wicket with Ryan Harris (77). He also added 48 runs for the ninth wicket with Nathan Lyon.
They were helped in this endeavour by the hapless Indian attack, bowling nowhere comparable to the consistent show they had put up on day one.
“Our guys have done terrific to be honest. They have come out and taken the bowlers on. Mitchell Johnson today looked good again and Ryan Harris came out and batted beautifully.”
“I don’t think India had an answer for us. I m glad that our tail can come out and do that and be really aggressive against the opposition,” Smith said.
“Brad batted really well. He bats best when he comes out and takes on the opposition. He did that today and he was positive from the start. I thought he played the short ball really well. "He got underneath a few and played a few pull shots and I thought he really played well to be honest,” he added praising the out of form keeper-batsman.
India had opted to bowl short to Haddin, not learning from their mistakes in Brisbane. They continued this ploy to the tail-enders and paid the price for a second Test running. Off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin was defiant in the belief that his team had followed the right strategy.
“We really thought Haddin had a genuine weakness over there,” said Ashwin explaining the Indian bowlers’ continuous approach of using the short-ball plan.
“We continue to think he has a weakness over there. We will continue to target him in the next innings and the next Test match as well. He doesn’t quite look that comfortable to us.”
“We were delaying the run-scoring (against the tail-enders) and we were pretty much ready for it. But it wasn’t until the last 30 or 40 minutes when Smith teed off a bit.”
“There was not a lot of lateral movement for us to exploit. We had plans in place to make sure Smith didn’t get away, but as it turned out he batted really well and towards the end he teed off,” Ashwin added.
India finished the day at 108 for one and have a tough job on their hands, with Australia still ahead by 422 runs. The first obvious target on day three will be saving the follow-on.
“The wicket was really slow yesterday morning. The ball didn’t come on much. Drives weren’t possible either.”
“As the day went on it became much better. Today it was pretty good and it came on to the bat pretty well. We also batted well today,” Ashwin said.
Meanwhile, Smith had no regrets about missing out on a maiden double hundred and is eyeing another Test win as captain instead.
“I was just trying to get as many runs as I could for the team towards the end so no regrets. I was going to declare at tea so I wanted to score as much as possible. "I think 530 is a good score on the board,” he said.
“It would have been nice to have taken a few wickets this evening. But if we start well in the morning and get the ball in the right area then we will. The wicket is still pretty good. "The occasional one takes off from the pitch and I think if you get the ball in the right area that will create a few chances hopefully in the morning,” Smith signed off.
© Cricket World 2014