Australia have declared at 7/572 on day two of the fourth test against India at the SCG. This is the fourth time in as many matches that the Aussies have hit 500+ against the tourists in their first innings. India are 1/71 in reply with much to do on day 3.
Australia resumed at 2/348 with Steve Smith picking up where he left off on day 2. Hitting out against some erratic bowling, Smith and Shane Watson moved steadily towards converting their overnight totals into major scores. Smith was again displaying his supreme confidence, bringing up his century in the 100th over after prodding a full toss through mid-on for four.
Raising his head to the sky, there was little doubt as to who Smith was playing for as the memory of Phil Hughes vibrated around the SCG.
“He is that confident at the moment,” was a comment offered during commentary by injured captain Michael Clarke on the irrepressible Steve Smith. Smith leads the run scoring list easily with a total of 698 at an average of 139.60.
Shane Watson looked in fine form until he was caught out swinging to deep mid-on for 81 off the bowling of Shami. Watson is batting to solidify his position in the squad and played an uncharacteristic innings complete with solid defense and ironically, patient hitting.
Smith fell 15-runs later for 117 to Yadav after mistiming a straight drive. He was caught behind by the retired MS Dhoni’s replacement Saha who played well in place of the veteran keeper. His innings completing an incredible achievement of four centuries in four consecutive matches, three as captain.
Again, just when it seemed like India were getting a roll-on, another partnership formed. Shaun Marsh and Joe Burns battled against some good spin bowling from Ashwin to rack-up a 114 run stand.
Burns had failed to score before this innings, but played with freedom at times during his 58. Marsh and Burns complimented each others style and energy to keep Australia in the ascendency. Both batsmen were dismissed by Shami who bowled with good pace and shape again on day two.
Marsh’s departure on 73 meant that he has again fallen short of converting a good innings into a century. Brad Haddin strode to his home crease and signalled his intent with a first ball six off Shami. He was soon joined by Ryan Harris who lit up the SCG with a quick-fire 25 from 9 balls including 9 fours.
The loss of Harris’ wicket in the final session brought about a declaration from Smith at an intimidating 7/572, summoning the Indians to the crease.
India were at 6’s and 7’s when the injured Mitchell Johnson’s replacement Mitchell Starc, had Vijay caught behind off the third ball of the innings. The under-fire bowler impressed with his speed and early shape to keep the tourists on their toes.
Rahul and Sharma rallied to remain at the crease at the close of play. At 1/71, India have it all to do on day 3 chasing a further 500 runs.