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Smith special puts Australia on top

India end day 2 at 108 for 1 after Australian captain combines with Haddin, Harris to take team to 530

Smith special puts Australia on top - Cricket News
Steve Smith scored 192, which was his highest Test score.
India’s day could have been worse, it probably should have been better, but as the second day of the third Test unfolded in Melbourne, there came a grim reminder that there were going to be few easy passages on this long tour. Australia, who were kept in check on the first day, kicked on in style to put 530 on the board, Steve Smith batting with barely disguised contempt towards the end of the innings. In reply, India lost Shikhar Dhawan early, but managed to lay a base of sorts, getting to 108 for 1.
Just as they had done in the two Tests gone by, India drove their supporters to anguish, following up a good day with one that was patchy at best. To say that some of the captaincy was inexplicable would be putting it mildly.
To begin with, India left their best bowler from the first day, R Ashwin, out of the attack for as long as an hour and a half.
While Ashwin bided his time, Umesh Yadav, Mohammad Shami and Ishant Sharma tried to make the most of a ball that was only eight overs old. Brad Haddin, who was at the crease with Smith, was peppered with short-pitched bowling, something that the Indians believe is a clear weakness of the wicketkeeper. Haddin has been dismissed this way in the past, most notably at the Gabba, where he fended after taking his eye off the ball, but on the day, Haddin was in no mood to merely survive, and instead of skulking at the crease, he counter-attacked.
Smith, who probably has more shots, especially of the innovative kind, than anyone in the world game save AB de Villiers, was content to kick back and simply protect the partnership. Over after over, Shami pounded the ball in short, and Haddin either swayed out of the way or got inside the line to hook or pull the ball into the deep without much trouble.
Haddin, who had gone 14 innings without having a reason to raise his bat to the crowd, set that right in the 95th over of the innings, working Shami away for a single that took him to his half-century and brought the batsman huge relief.
Smith’s batting was at a different plane to those that shared the pitch with him, and the combination of how he left the ball outside the off, drove through cover and straight back past the bowler broke the will of Shami and friends. On one occasion, Smith presented the full face of his bat to Shami, defending the ball back down the pitch, only for the bowler to pick up the ball and fling it in the direction of the stumps. Smith, who hadn’t moved an inch, defended once more, and broke into a grin, infuriating Shami further and leaving him with no option but to head back to the outfield to sulk by himself.
India finally broke through when Haddin (55), looking to leave a ball alone, got an inside edge back onto his stumps. By this stage, though, India had managed to work Haddin back into some kind of form and the sixth-wicket partnership was worth 110.
Mitchell Johnson walked out to bat and this time, with no pouting Rohit Sharma around to welcome him, normal service resumed. Johnson was neither overly aggressive nor ultra defensive, and when he tried to kick on, he was beaten by Ashwin to be comfortably stumped by Mahendra Singh Dhoni.

If India thought the fall of the seventh wicket would bring relief, they were seriously mistaken as Ryan Harris batted with all the authority of a top-order player. Keeping the good balls out with some ease, Harris opened his shoulders when the ball was too full, hitting through the off side and over the leg side.
Harris brought up his fourth Test half-century and Smith moved serenely past 150 as Indian seemed to run out of ideas. As has been the case on so many occasions in overseas Tests in the recent past, there seemed to be nothing to do but wait for the declaration.
With an eye on the tea break, Smith went boom, opening up several different fronts of attack. Against Ashwin, the favoured method was the waltz down the pitch, a straight bat then launching the ball several rows back into the stands. Umesh and Shami dropped short and provided width more than once, and they were either slapped down past point, or pulled back down the ground in trademark Smith style.
When the barrage became consistent, Dhoni pushed the field back, and really there was nothing else to do when a marauding batsman in the form of his life gives himself the licence to go on an all-out attack.
Harris had raced to 74 off 88 balls and was harbouring thoughts of a maiden Test hundred when he missed a sweep to be trapped in front by Ashwin. When India finally saw the back of Smith – he had taken his series run tally to 530 – Australia were sitting pretty with 530 on the board. Smith had fallen eight short of a maiden double-hundred when an attempted ramp shot failed to make contact and the ball crashed into the stumps.
India’s batsmen had a significant chunk to play out and M Vijay and Dhawan began well enough, putting 55 on the board and proving that there were no demons in the pitch. Dhawan, however, could not overcome his penchant for hanging the bat outside off, and edged to the slips cordon. Vijay, who is enjoying a fine run even as others around him struggle for consistency, kept up the good work, patiently helping himself to 55 as India ended on 108 for 1, still 422 behind.

To review the Australia v India match in full, please click here.

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