Jan 08, 2015 Sports
ESPNcricinfo – Everywhere you turned on the second day in Sydney there were stats, and Steven Smith was at the centre of most of them. But at the end of the day the only figure that really mattered was 501. That was the deficit India faced at stumps yesterday, when they had moved their score along to 1 for 71, with Rohit Sharma on 40 and KL Rahul on 31. On a good batting surface, India need to make day three a big one.
The first two were great ones for Australia, who declared at 7 for 572 shortly after tea. It was the first time Australia’s top six batsmen had all reached fifty in an innings, the first time since West Indies toured in 1968-69 that Australia had posted four consecutive 500-plus first-innings totals in a series, and the first time since Bradman that an Australian had scored hundreds in four consecutive Tests in a series.
The man who achieved that was Smith, whose 117 continued a most outrageous run of first-innings form at home that stretches back more than a year. Six of his past seven first-innings scores in Tests in Australia have been hundreds, the last three of those as captain. In Sydney, he put on 196 for the third wicket with Shane Watson, their partnership ending in the morning session on day two.
Smith reached his hundred from his 168th delivery with a flick through midwicket for a boundary off a low full toss from Umesh Yadav, and celebrated with a raise of the bat, a glance to the sky and a hug from Watson. Eventually he fell for 117 when Yadav pitched the ball up outside off, and a rare lack of footwork from Smith resulted in an edge behind.
Already Watson had departed, caught at deep midwicket when his pull off Mohammed Shami
picked out the fielder, R Ashwin. His 81 was a good contribution but in friendly conditions a fifth century was there for the taking; instead it was his 23rd time out between 50 and 100. Not that the loss of Watson and Smith hurt Australia much, for India’s bowlers were unable to get anything out of the pitch.
Joe Burns and Shaun Marsh each scored half-centuries as 118 were added during the middle session for the loss of only Marsh, who steered a catch behind off Shami for 73. Marsh was typically strong when driving straight and cutting, and his fifty came from 87 deliveries, although he had received a life on 9 when he prodded Ashwin and M Vijay, in close on the off side, was unable to cling on.
Burns took 19 balls to get off the mark and when he did so two consecutive boundaries arrived off Ashwin, but after reaching 30 he again became bogged down for a period. He was not at his most fluent when going over the top but began to find his rhythm and put away the bad balls, and his half-century came from 94 deliveries.
He was helped after lunch by Virat Kohli’s strange decision to bowl Suresh Raina with Burns and Marsh both reasonably new to the crease, although in truth none of the bowlers looked especially threatening. Burns’ registered his maiden Test fifty with a sweep for four off Ashwin, but was caught at long-on for 58 when Australia chased quick runs after tea.
Brad Haddin, who cleared the long-on boundary off Shami from his first ball, and Ryan Harris boosted the total as 34 runs came in 3.3 overs after tea, before Smith’s declaration. That came when Harris, who had struck 19 off one over from Bhuvneshwar Kumar, was caught at deep midwicket for 25 off nine balls. It gave Shami the consolation of a five-wicket haul.
He was the only bowler to manage multiple wickets. Notably, Bhuvneshwar’s pace was well down throughout the innings and decreased even further, to the point where in his first over after tea every delivery was 115kph or slower.
On the first day it had taken India three hours to break Australia’s opening partnership; on the second day it took Australia only three balls to end India’s opening stand. Mitchell Starc took the new ball and lured M Vijay into wafting outside off and he tickled behind to Brad Haddin to give Australia the perfect start.
Rahul, who moved up the order to open, had a few plays and misses early but survived, and Rohit had struck a couple of sixes by stumps. But with a 501-run deficit, it was going to take a lot more than that for India to fight back into the match.
Scores: India 1 for 71 (Rohit 40*, Rahul 31*) trail Australia 7 for 572 dec (Smith 117, Warner 101, Rogers 95, Marsh 73, Burns 58, Shami 5-112) by 501 runs.
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