Smith shines on captaincy debut

Published: Friday 19th December 2014 by The News Editor

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Steve Smith hit 133 in his first match as Australia’s Test captain as the Baggy Green took what could prove to be a vital 97-run lead in the first Test against India at Brisbane.

The home side were bowled out for 505, with Smith leading the way, while the lower order provided much frustration for the Indian bowlers.

The final five partnerships yielded 273 runs with Mitchell Johnson scoring 88, Mitchell Starc 52 and number 11 Josh Hazelwood finishing unbeaten on 32.

India finished the day 26 runs behind on 71 for one with first-innings centurion Murali Vijay the only batsman to depart having made 28.

Smith started day three unbeaten on 65 and began a sensible accumulation with India pacemen Varun Aaron and Ishant Sharma hitting their straps.

The latter bowled Mitchell Marsh for 11, before a well-directed bouncer from Aaron caused Brad Haddin to glove one to Cheteshwar Pujara at short leg for six leaving the home side in trouble on 257 for six.

It could have been worse had a quality delivery in the 64th over from Ishant caught Smith’s outside edge.

However, Smith and Johnson, who has often come to Australia’s rescue with the bat, rebuilt the innings.

The fast bowler led the charge in his usual counter-attacking style, taking advantage of some poor bowling from Umesh Yadav to smash three shots to the boundary in the 69th over.

Aaron was next to get the Johnson treatment after replacing Yadav, with his first three deliveries finding the fence.

Smith brought up his century in the 73rd over, cutting a short wide delivery from Aaron to the boundary.

Smith and Johnson put on 148 for the seventh wicket before Johnson departed as Ishant slanted a delivery across the fast bowler, who top edged to MS Dhoni behind the stumps.

Australia were still behind India’s first-innings total of 408 and there were fears that they may not move too far past it after Ishant picked up his second wicket of the 88th over, with Smith chopping on.

Starc was dropped by Yadav off his own bowling when on 17 and it proved to be costly as, supported by Nathan Lyon, they pushed the home side into a first-innings lead.

Lyon lobbed one to mid-on off Aaron for 23 but Hazlewood picked up where he left off until Starc was bowled by Ravichandran Ashwin for 52.

In the final session, the Australians were keen to test the visitors’ ability to play the short ball.

Vijay, who scored a glorious 144 in the first innings, showed his intentions after hitting consecutive fours off Johnson in the fifth over, but in the main it was about survival.

Vijay could not quite manage that as he was bowled by Starc for 27, but both Shikhar Dhawan (27 not out) and Pujara, unbeaten on 15, saw India to the close without further damage.

Published: Friday 19th December 2014 by The News Editor

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