Steve Smith (117*) and Glenn Maxwell (82*) led Australia’s charge as the visitors ended Day 1 of the third Test at 299 for 4 against India on Thursday.
Maxwell, who was brought into the team after Australia lost Mitchell Marsh to injury, notched up his first Test fifty and Smith went onto score his 19th Test ton as Australia denied India a chance to run through their batting line-up after being reduced to 140/4.
Umesh Yadav was the most successful for India on Day 1 as he scalped two wickets (2/63) while R Ashwin (1/78) and Ravindra Jadeja (1/80) got a wicket each.
Smith’s second century of the series – the first one in Pune played a huge hand in Australia drubbing India by 333 runs – is his sixth against India.
He is the only man to have entered the three-digit figure and he needed this after all the negativity surrounding him over the last week.
He came in at a spot where one more wicket for India would have swung the tide. Instead, he kept batting and put on the highest-stand of the series with Maxwell, playing his first Test since 2014.
This was Smith’s slowest century in Tests in terms of balls. But during the innings, he went past 5000 Test runs, becoming the seventh fastest to the landmark.
Having lost three prior to lunch, along with Handscomb, Smith put up the second fifty-plus stand after Renshaw and Warner had seen the team through to their first 50 runs of the innings.
After the dismissal of Handscomb, trapped leg-before to a lovely inswinging yorker by Umesh, India had the opening, Maxwell and Smith watchfully churned 159 runs between them and blunted the Indian attack.
R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja struggled to get sufficient purchase and the pressure of not getting wickets resulted in a weird tactic of bowling outside leg which did nothing but bleed runs.
Perhaps the absence of Virat Kohli from the field also had a bearing. The Indian captain took a bump while diving to stop a boundary and went off the field not to return for the remainder of the day.
Contrary to the belief prior to heading into the match, this was the best surface of the Border-Gavaskar Trophy. There was hardly any awkward bounce, vicious turn or balls that stayed low.
Despite that, India seized the early advantage and applied the brakes at crucial junctures – first seeing the back of Warner when Australia seemed to be collecting runs at ease against the new ball, and then when Renshaw looked set for his third half-century of the series.
The pitch not being much of a fuss, the ball came smooth onto the bats of Warner and Renshaw, who got Australia off the blocks. The quick outfield meant that all the batsmen had to do was place the ball in the gaps. They did so and runs came thick and fast.