Saturday, February 25, 2017

1st Test: India lose openers early; Steven Smith"s ton takes Australia to strong position

Australia’s captain Steve Smith celebrates his century. Pic/ PTI

Pune: Openers KL Rahul and Murli Vijay lost their wickets early as India score 16-2 in their second innings chasing a target of 440.

Steven Smith led from the front with a century as Australia posted 285 in their second innings at lunch to move to a commanding position on the third day of the first Test against India on Saturday.

Dropped by Ajinkya Rahane off Ravichandran Ashwin’s bowling, the Australian skipper went on to make the most of the reprieve to post 109, his first century in India.

He hit 11 boundaries during his 202-ball stay in the middle before being trapped leg before by Ravindra Jadeja.

Ashwin dismissed Steve O’Keefe to put an end to Australia’s second innings at the stroke of lunch. The visitors now have a lead of 440 runs.

Ashwin was the most successful among the Indian bowlers with figures of 4/119. Jadeja and fast bowler Umesh Yadav clinched three and two wickets respectively, while rookie off-spinner Jayant Yadav had one scalp to his name

India started the day on a positive note with overnight batsman Mitchell Marsh offering a thick outside edge to wicketkeeper Wriddhiman Saha off Jadeja’s bowling.

But Smith and Matthew Wade got together to carry the visitors’ second innings past the 200-run mark.

Umesh Yadav, who was impressive throughout the morning session, got his reward when Mattthew Wade offered a thick edge to Saha.

The left-hander had got a reprieve earlier in the over when the ball took a slight touch of the toe end of the bat on its way into Saha’s gloves.

Wade’s departure saw Mitchell Starc join his captain in the middle and the two proceeded to put pressure on the hosts by scoring at a brisk rate.

The Indians, however, hit back by removing Smith, Starc, Nathan Lyon and O-Keefe in quick succession just ahead of the lunch break.

Brief scores:

Australia: 260 & 285 (Steven Smith 109; Ravichandran Ashwin 4/119, Ravindra Jadeja 3/65) vs India (First Innings): 105.

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