Steven Smith scored 192 © Getty Images
Steven Smith scored his seventh Test ton © Getty Images

By Nishad Pai Vaidya

Dec 27, 2014

India ended Day Two of the third Test at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) at 108 for one after Australia had piled 530. Steven Smith was the star of the day as his 192 powered Australia to a good score. He was aided by numerous cameos through the day to take firm command of the game. At close of play, Murali Vijay and Cheteshwar Pujara were the unbeaten Indian batsmen.

Australia resumed the day on 259 for five with Smith and Brad Haddin in the middle. India had endeavoured to bowl Australia out quickly, but the Aussies put paid to their hopes with an excellent display of batting. India’s tactics backfired as Australia showed good application to pile the runs on the board.

Haddin countered the short-ball strategy very well and was the aggressor in the morning. He moved to his fifty in quick time as Smith worked his way to his seventh Test ton. This was truly a momentous occasion for the young skipper, who got his second Test ton in as many games as captain. To top it all, he also completed 2,000 Test runs and got his 500th run of the series.

Even after Haddin was dismissed, India struggled to get through the lower order. Mitchell Johnson flayed his way in typical fashion, moving along to 28 before being dismissed by Ravichandran Ashwin, who was India’s best bowler for major part of the day. Ashwin was introduced quite late and he did bowl well before he was taken apart at the end.

The partnership that added more nails to India’s coffin was Ryan Harris’ spirited stand with Smith. Harris was playing like a proper top order batsman during his innings of 74. He was the dominant partner in the 106-run stand and had begun to throw his bat around towards the end. Smith trusted him and allowed him the strike.

Once Harris was dismissed, Smith unleashed his aggressive best and carted the ball around the park. In the process, he moved past his best score in Test cricket and was on his way to a double. However, on 192, he was bowled by Umesh Yadav.

India had a forgettable day with the ball. All their four main bowlers conceded over 100 runs, making it 26 for the year 2014.

Shikhar Dhawan and Vijay batted well to help India to a good start. Both batsmen punished anything full and looked in control of proceedings. Dhawan got to 28, before edging to Smith in the slips. Another start wasted. Pujara and Vijay ended the day without further damage. India got to their ton late in the day. From the looks of things, they have been untroubled and it still remains a good batting track. Vijay finished the day on 55 not out.

Brief scores:

Australia 530 (Chris Rogers 57, Shane Watson 52, Steven Smith 192, Ryan Harris 74, Brad Haddin 55; Umesh Yadav 3 for 130, Mohammed Shami 4 for 138, Ravichandran Ashwin 3 for 134) lead India 108 for 1 (Murali Vijay 55*; Ryan Harris 1 for 19) by 422 runs.

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(Nishad Pai Vaidya is a Correspondent with CricketCountry and anchor for the site’s YouTube Channel. His Twitter handle is @nishad_45)