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by Chetan Narula Wednesday 7 January 2015
Often it is said that a batsman in form during a lengthy series is the most dangerous aspect of cricket. He can just carry on throughout and get an amazing run under his belt, certainly if the opposition is kind.
Precisely that has happened with Steve Smith as the Australian skipper scored a record fourth consecutive hundred against India in the fourth Test in Sydney with a fine knock of 117 at his home ground. The hosts later declared at 572 for seven.
"It’s been a pretty special summer for me personally obviously with some of the results that I have go," he said.
"I always look at the team first and I think that the success the team over the last little bit has had has been outstanding and we are in another good position in this Test match.
"It was another special moment, to get a hundred at the SCG, home ground for me and my favourite place to play," he added.
Smith also became the second highest Australian run-scorer in a four-Test series. He fell short by nine runs of the highest score of 706 runs held by Ricky Ponting, scored against India in 2003-04.
There was another record registered when Joe Burns reached his maiden Test fifty as it was the first time in their history that Australia had the top six batsmen all get half-centuries in the same innings. As such, India became the team to allow four opposition teams this feat.
Steve Smith's golden run
1st Test, Adelaide: 162* & 52*
2nd Test, Brisbane: 133 & 28
3rd Test, Melbourne: 102 & 14
4th Test, Sydney: 117
"The whole top six got above fifty which I don't think has ever happened before. That's outstanding for us.
"Before this Test match I said to the boys I wanted the batters to do the work this game. I think we've relied a lot on the tail the last couple of Test matches and I said the batters had to step up," he said.
"It helps sometimes when the bowlers are a little bit tired, we are trying to get them to come back and bowl as many spells as we can and we know we can cash in later in the day if we can.
"Yesterday was a perfect example and 0-200 was a great platform. David Warner and Chris Rogers were outstanding and set us up for the rest of the innings.
"For us it was just about batting time and reassessing at the lunch break. I thought Shane Watson played a terrific first innings," he added, praising his partner in the 196-run stand for the third wicket.
India closed the day at 71 for one with Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul looking good at the crease, though they still trail by 501 runs.
"I thought India bowled pretty well this morning. It was hard to get away at times but we've managed to get 570 in the first innings and I think that's a very good total. We bowled well today.
"Mitchell Starc was outstanding, the way he amped it up and bowled the last couple of quick spells. If we had a little bit of luck I think we could have had two or three wickets tonight," said the young skipper.
"But for us it's about coming out in the morning and building as much pressure as we can and get breakthroughs that way. It's not the kind of wicket where you can blast sides out, it's about staying patient and hopefully the patience pays off," he added.
For India, medium pacer Mohammad Shami took five for 112 on a tough bowling pitch, but he was in a brooding mood over his team’s poor effort in the field and indeed with the ball.
"It’s tough for fast bowlers to bowl on flat pitch. It is important to maintain your line and length. When it becomes easier for batsmen to play shots, it becomes tough for us," he said.
It’s not correct to say that we are struggling. If they are scoring 450-plus runs we too are scoring 400-plus runs. There isn’t much difference. All I can say is hard luck.
"Australian bowlers are bowling in their home grounds, so they are used to the conditions here and are aware of what line and length they should be bowling.
"We tried the same thing but they batted well. So it’s all part of the game, sometimes it happens and sometimes it doesn’t," he added.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar played his first Test of the series after recovering from an ankle injury but returned figures of nought for 122, looking down on pace for most part of the first two days. Shami however denied that his team-mate was not match fit.
"Without being fit, it is difficult to form a playing eleven. The team is decided based on fitness only.
"You may have noticed he doesn’t have that sort of pace in the first place. He is a line and length bowler and relies on swing. It is such a slow wicket, and if you judge him on his pace then it’s not fair to question his fitness," he said.
India now trail by 501 runs with Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul at the crease, and the team are hoping to cross the 372-run mark and save the follow-on.
© Cricket World 2015