Australia’s talisman batsman Steve Smith looked at his best on the opening day of the third Test match against India at the Sydney Cricket Ground on Thursday.
Smith, who has struggled to get going in the first two Test matches, played positively as soon as he came to the crease.
The right-hander was able to hit the ground running after he scored a couple of straight boundaries against debutant Navdeep Saini. Smith was more aggressive in his batting approach and took the attack to the Indian bowlers.
In fact, Smith raced to 24 runs off just 25 balls as he timed the ball to perfection. The right-hander also made good use of his feet against Ravichandran Ashwin, who has troubled him in the ongoing series. Smith also played a straight lofted shot against Ashwin to make his intentions clear against the off-spinner.
Smith looks in better form as he finished the Day one of the New Year’s Test unbeaten at 31. The right-hander spent some quality time in the middle and it must have added a shot in the arm to him.
Smith said after the end of the opening day’s play, “I’m good, nice to spend a bit of time out there, nice to stitch in a partnership with Marnus. I wanted to put him (Ashwin) under a little bit of pressure which I haven’t done this series. Was just trying to hold the grip a bit tighter, I’ve been struggling, so I was getting into good positions today. Was good to get a couple of boundaries early. Marnus played well, hopefully we go along well tomorrow”.
These are ominous signs for the Indian team as Smith is looking at his best on a belter of a pitch. Australia dominated the rain-curtailed day as they finished at 166-2. The hosts won two out of the three sessions as only 55 overs were possible on the opening day.
India got off to a good start as David Warner was dismissed early by Mohammed Siraj. Subsequently, debutant Will Pucovski and Marnus Labuschagne added 100 runs for the second wicket.
Pucovski was given two lives by Rishabh Pant but the right-hander scored a fine 62 before he was plumbed in front of the wickets by Navdeep Saini. Labuschagne has so far added 60 runs with Smith as Australia look all set for a big score.