Indian bowlers had a toilsome time on the opening day of the highly important third Test as Australia took the charge of proceedings, finishing at a fantastic 299/4 at stumps. Skipper Steven Smith and comeback man Glenn Maxwell took total control of the day’s play and put on an unbeaten 159-run stand for the fifth wicket to ensure the visitors were on top.
Smith walked back as a satisfied man after a day full of hard work which earned him not one but two milestones. Firstly, when he reached 76 with a single off Ravindra Jadeja’s over, he passed 5000 Test runs. It took him just 53 matches or say 97 innings to achieve this remarkable feat, making him the seventh-fastest in terms of innings, and third-fastest in terms of matches played. This feat becomes more valuable and distinctive as only three batsmen have done it since Smith’s debut in 2010.
On the other hand, Maxwell, who was playing his first Test in three years, made the occasion count and batted rather unnatural to his style to support his skipper, sealing his batting spot ahead of Mathew Wade, at least for this series.
It was only in the first session that Indians could actually be head to head with Australia. Opener David Warner and Matt Renshaw gave a sound start, putting up 50 runs on the board before the vice-captain was caught and bowled by Jadeja. Renshaw looked cool and calm like he has been throughout the series and Australia looked to be moving ahead steadily, before breakthroughs came for the hosts with the help of Umesh Yadav and Ravichandran Ashwin. The visitors lost both Renshaw and Shaun Marsh in quick succession, making way for Maxwell to enter and impress one and all.
Speaking in the post-match interview, Steven Smith lauded Maxwell’s efforts while describing the nature of Ranchi wicket.
“Obviously, 4 for 300, we will take it. Had to form a couple of partnerships. The wicket is a good one. We would need every run possible. Maxi played beautifully. Played nice and straight. This one hasn’t spun. The others two spun considerably. This one has played better than I thought. The consistency of bounce has been there, generally throughout the day. We can’t control the past. We moved on from it,” Smith said.
After a productive day, Smith’s eyes are now firmly set on the second day. He stated the visitors will look to add as many runs as possible on Friday.
“We had to focus on Ranchi. But Friday is going to be crucial for us. We would need as many runs as possible. 4 for 300 is something that we will take on day 1. He stuck to his game plan. He hit the loose ball, that’s all you need to. He kept it simple. He has been batting really well in the nets. He got the opportunity and making the most of it. We need as many runs as we can on this track. I would be glad if I am still batting at this time of the day, on Friday,” he concluded.