Brief scores: India 26/0 (Shubman Gill 14*, Rohit Sharma 11*) against Australia 338 ( Steve Smith 131, Marnus Labuschagne 91; Ravindra Jadeja 4 for 62, Navdeep Saini 2 for 65).
Steve Smith’s valiant knock was the only shining light in what was a disappointing second session for Australia on the second day of the third Test of the Border-Gavaskar Trophy in Sydney.
India built on a strong morning session, wrapping up the Australian tail without much fuss. The visitors then made a solid start to their innings, going to tea without losing a wicket.
India’s pacers continued to ask questions of the Australian batsmen after lunch and were rewarded with the big wicket of Tim Paine, as Jasprit Bumrah’s searing inswinger breached the Australian captain's defence.
The visitors looked much more threatening with the new ball in the afternoon, with Mohammed Siraj and Jasprit Bumrah bowling well in tandem. Navdeep Saini got a chance to bowl as well. The bowler, however, struggled to impress, as he leaked runs and was taken off after just two overs.
Ajinkya Rahane’s bowling changes worked well during the session, as Ravindra Jadeja picked up his third wicket of the day. Pat Cummins was yorked when he tried to play a full delivery, with the ball hitting the base of the stumps.
Steve Smith notches up another ton against India
Mitchell Starc was in next, and the bowler was his usual attacking self. Starc didn’t shy away from playing his shots, as attention turned towards an impending Steve Smith hundred.
The moment finally came in the 98th over, as Steve Smith notched up his 27th Test hundred to end a 17-month drought. The batsman was visibly satisfied with his knock, celebrating wildly as he became the first Australian to score a ton in this series.
Steve Smith’s century also meant that Mitchell Starc went into an all-out attack. The left-arm pacer targeted Navdeep Saini, smashing him for a six over deep backward square leg.
However, Saini had his man a couple of deliveries later. Mitchell Starc’s useful cameo (24 off 30 balls) came to an end after he skied a short ball to Shubman Gill.
Ravindra Jadeja was amongst the wickets again after drinks, trapping Nathan Lyon LBW. His brilliant direct hit from the deep then ended Steve Smith’s valiant knock and the Australian first innings, as the hosts failed to make the most of their strong position at the start of Day 2.
Indian openers make a solid start
India were tasked with batting out nine overs before tea, and the openers did that confidently. Both Shubman Gill and Rohit Sharma did not take any risks, seeing out the session with ease.
Nevertheless, the openers looked solid in the middle. Both scored a few boundaries to get themselves going as India go into tea as the happier side. The visitors managed to restrict Australia to a below-par total on a flat Sydney wicket and will now look to put up a decent effort with the bat.
Meanwhile, Australia have their task cut out. They didn’t make the most of the conducive batting conditions, losing their last eight wickets on Day 2 for just 172 runs. The hosts will now hope to replicate India’s bowling effort and try to eke out a significant first-innings lead.Published 08 Jan 2021, 10:40 IST