Steve Smith bludgeoned his eighth hundred in 26 matches as Australia continued to consolidate their hold of the fourth and final Test vs India at the Sydney Cricket Ground. The Aussie captain has been in phenomenal form in the series and responded in typical fashion again, slamming his fourth hundred in as many matches. (Day 2 Blog)
Australia resumed Day 2 on 348/2 and Smith, batting with Shane Watson seemed intent on punishing India's lackluster bowling further on a flat pitch. Smith hit 15 boundaries before falling to Umesh Yadav for 117, minutes before lunch.
However, it was Yadav earlier, who had offered a full toss on the knees, and Smith was only too glad to put it away - he then looked skyward in memory of Phillip Hughes who died at the SCG after being hit by a bouncer in November.
Smith now has scores of 162*, 52*, 133, 28, 192 , 14 and 117 from seven innings to aggregate 698 runs at a staggering average of 139.60 in this series. All of Smith's hundred have come in the first innings. The Aussie skipper became only the third batsman along with Don Bradman and Jacques Kallis to score tons in four consecutive Tests in the same series.
Bradman scored his centuries against South Africa at home in 1931-32, while Kallis compiled his hundreds against the West Indies in South Africa in 2003-04.
Smith is now the third highest Aussie scorer in all India-Australia Test series. The list is topped by Bradman, who amassed 715 runs from five matches in 1947/48, followed by Ricky Ponting with 706 runs from four matches in 2003/04. Smith has a chance to overtake both these men if India can make Australia bat again in this Test.
Besides, Smith also joined the likes of Bradman, Neil Harvey, Jack Fingleton and Mathew Hayden as only the fifth Australian batsman to have made 100s in four or more consecutive Tests.
The 25-year-old, who replaced Michael Clarke as skipper for the ongoing series, came out all guns blazing after Australia lost David Warner and Chris Rogers in the space of four runs after their 200-run opening stand. In splendid form, Smith sought to assert himself on the Indian attack immediately, not afraid to use his feet against R Ashwin, who was getting the ball to turn and bounce.
Smith, who glided to his half-century off 67 balls for his fifth innings beyond 50 in the series, was unbeaten on 82 with Watson on 61 at the end of the first day. Watson had himself looked good for a hundred but he fell 19 short, perishing to Mohammed Shami for 81.
The duo had maintained Australia's grip with a 196-run stand for the third wicket to put the home side at a formidable position.
Smith has impressed in his first three Tests as captain and many believe he is the right man to take over the reigns from Clarke once his time is up. His batting is often seen as unorthodox but Smith continues to be effective in all formats. His Test match form and run scoring spree will undoubtedly give the Aussies a lot to cheer about.
(With Inputs From Agencies)