Smith back from the brink with a vengeance | Sunday Observer

Smith back from the brink with a vengeance

10 January, 2021
Steve Smith
Steve Smith

Australia’s Steve Smith ended his 16-month wait for a Test hundred on day two of a finely poised third Test against India.

Smith scored 131 from 226 balls, his first century since the fourth Ashes Test against England in September 2019. Marnus Labuschagne made 91 but, after he fell, Smith received little support, the final seven wickets falling for 106 as the hosts were dismissed for 338. India battled to 96-2 at the close in Sydney, 242 runs behind.

Openers Rohit Sharma and Shubman Gill put on 70 for the opening wicket before Rohit was caught and bowled for 26 by Josh Hazlewood and Gill was caught at gully off Pat Cummins for 50, his maiden Test half-century.

The four-Test series is level at 1-1, with the final Test in Brisbane starting on 15 January. No-one really doubted it, but after a lean spell Smith roared back on Friday. The 31-year-old last week lost top spot in the Test batting rankings to New Zealand’s Kane Williamson.

Although he made two successive centuries in November in Australia’s one-day series win over India, he had managed only 10 runs in four innings in the Test series, including his first duck for four years in the second Test.

The 14 innings between centuries was the longest spell in his career since going 22 innings from debut in 2010 to maiden hundred in 2013.

He averaged 34 during his latest quiet run - a significant drop from his astonishing career average of 61.33.

Smith’s celebration upon reaching a 27th Test hundred suggested relief and frustration, rather than happiness.

Smith’s response when asked about his century also suggested he was frustrated by discussions about his form.

“I’m reading lots of things people say about out of form, but think there’s a difference between out of form and out of runs,” the former Australia captain said.

(BBC sport)