Smith stars but India fight back

Published: Saturday 27th December 2014 by The News Editor

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Home captain Steve Smith’s career-best 192 was the highlight of day two between Australia and India in Melbourne, but the tourists will be pleased with how they dug in when their time came to bat.

Having witnessed the Baggy Green run up 530 from their overnight 259 for five, India – 2-0 down in the series – may have been expected to be worse off than they were at the close.

They ended the day at the MCG on 108 for one, thanks to Murali Vijay’s unbeaten 50, and although work remains to be done, they can take heart from their defiance.

Their resolve will have been severely tested by Smith and the Australian lower-order, though.

Smith, shining as captain in place of the injured Michael Clarke, recorded his third straight hundred after resuming on 72, and had Brad Haddin with him for company, with the veteran keeper making 55.

Smith’s seventh test hundred came in 191 balls but he was not to stop there, even when Haddin left him as the only remaining recognised batsman, bottom-edging Mohammed Shami behind.

That brought Mitchell Johnson to the middle and he put up an entertaining 28, going after 37 balls when R Ashwin tempted him down the pitch and he was stumped by MS Dhoni.

Ryan Harris was next in and the gnarled paceman offered some genuine surprise, going to a Test best 74 from 88 balls.

Harris clubbed eight fours and a six while out in the middle, providing real frustration for the visiting attack who, at that stage, would have been hoping to keep Australia to around 450.

Ashwin eventually did for Harris, getting him playing across the line, and when Nathan Lyon went to Shami for 11 all that remained was the question of whether Smith would get to a double hundred.

The answer was no, the skipper cleaned up by Umesh Yadav before heading off to a standing ovation after his 305-ball vigil.

He quickly had to switch to tactical mode as India started their reply, and it was he who pouched the only wicket of the innings, scooping up Shikhar Dhawan for 28 off Harris.

After that Vijay (55no) and Cheteshwar Pujara (25no) got to the close, although the latter was fortunate to see Haddin put him down – albeit off a difficult chance off Josh Hazlewood- when on 12.

Published: Saturday 27th December 2014 by The News Editor

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