Smith 192 Gives Australia 530

December 27, 2014

Steven Smith's most masterful innings yet, plus a star turn with the bat from Ryan Harris, pushed Australia to a bounteous 530 against an increasingly flustered India by tea on day two of the Boxing Day Test at the MCG.

Smith skipped to his third hundred in as many matches, making him the first Australian to pass three figures in each of his first two Tests as captain.

Stands of 110 with Brad Haddin and 50 with Mitchell Johnson set the scene for a rollicking union of 106 between Smith and Harris, who posted his highest Test score. In the end only the lure of a double century before tea tripped up, bowled when attempting to ramp Umesh Yadav to fine leg with last man Josh Hazlewood looking on.

All India's bowlers conceded centuries of their own, and none could find a way past Smith, who is finding exceptionally rare territory with his current glut of runs. Chris Rogers had ranked him alongside AB de Villiers on the first evening, and said it was "scary" how good Smith may yet become. In front of an appreciative MCG crowd, Smith scared the living daylights out of MS Dhoni.

Smith and Haddin looked assured as stumps neared on the first evening, and they resumed as though the interval had been only a few minutes rather than a night's sleep. Haddin was untroubled by India's short-ball fixation, playing one neat hook shot and another more outlandish overhead, cross-court forehand.

This convinced Shami to revert to over the wicket, but when he did Haddin delivered the shot of the morning: an iron-wristed punch through point for which there was no need to run. A brace of boundaries in the following over from Ishant Sharma took Haddin to 50 - his first in 14 innings and a reassuring sight for the Australian selectors.

Smith had announced his intent for the morning by gliding Shami through cover for three in the day's second over, and a flurry of boundaries through cover, point and midwicket took him to the cusp of another century. Shami was obliging with a leg-stump offering that Smith flicked fine of long leg, and he cast his eyes on Phillip Hughes and the heavens upon notching his first Test hundred at the MCG.

Haddin did not last much longer, snicking Shami behind while trying to leave one alone, but Johnson showed plenty of verve and power in a racy 28. A dance down the wicket to R Ashwin had Johnson stumped after a stand of precisely 50, and there was time for Harris to deliver one boundary of his own and Smith to pass 500 runs for the series before lunch arrived.

Harris and Smith set a cracking pace in the afternoon, the No. 9 batsman briefly putting his captain in the shade with a series of hefty blows that reaped the majority of a hundred stand. A towering six over midwicket took Harris to his Test best, but next ball he was lbw to Ashwin just as spectators began thinking of a Harris hundred.

Smith resumed the dominant posture in adding a riotous 48 with Nathan Lyon in 38 balls, and it was only in attempting a stroke of outrageous intent that the captain met his end. Given how well Smith had been playing to this point, it was hard to blame him.

(cricinfo)



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