India respond well after Smith, Maxwell tons in Ranchi
Lokesh Rahul made an elegant 67, his fourth half-century in five innings, before Pat Cummins dismissed him in the paceman’s first Test after more than five years in the wilderness.
India were 120 for one at close, still 331 behind, with Murali Vijay unbeaten on 42 and Cheteshwar Pujara on 10.
Home skipper Virat Kohli, who did not take the field since sustaining a shoulder injury in Thursday’s second session, is expected to bat.
Earlier, lion-hearted left-arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja bowled the bulk of the overs to claim 5-124 and effected a spectacular run-out to wrap up Australia’s first innings.
After Australia had resumed on 299-4, paceman Umesh Yadav broke Maxwell’s bat in two with the very first delivery but could not really unsettle the batsman.
The normally swashbuckling Maxwell assiduously inched his way to become the second Australian cricketer after Shane Watson to score a century in all three formats.
After reaching his hundred with a fierce cut that flew through the slips for his ninth boundary, Maxwell looked quite overwhelmed by the achievement as he embraced Smith with a huge bear hug, took off his helmet and kissed the badge.
He added four more runs to his score before edging Jadeja to wicketkeeper Wriddhiman Saha for 104. Maxwell also hit two sixes and faced 185 balls in his four-hour vigil, the longest he has spent at the crease in an international match.
Better known for his exploits in the shorter formats, the 28-year-old grasped his chance in his first Test outing in more than two years to build a series-high 191-run partnership with his skipper.
Smith, who crossed 5,000 test runs in Australia’s 800th test, the first ever at the Jharkhand State Cricket Association Stadium, was in complete control at the other end.
His 19th Test century, which contained 17 boundaries, is the highest score by an Australia captain in India, eclipsing predecessor Michael Clarke’s 130 in Chennai four years ago.
Yadav admitted bowling to Smith was quite a challenge on a batting-friendly wicket.
“Singles are coming easily and the outfield is so fast that you just need to place it in the gap and it would race to the boundary,” he said.
The paceman also expected his team to benefit from the track.
“It’s a 100-run-a-session wicket. We also made 120 today. Plus minus 20-30 runs, but we’ll try to get there.”
Jadeja, who bowled more than a third of the overs in the Australia innings, kept India in the game, dismissing Matthew Wade for 37 and the scoreless Cummins in the same over.
Smith missed his double century when he sprinted for a risky second run and bowler Jadeja, his back to the stumps, collected a throw and flicked the ball onto the wickets to run out Josh Hazlewood.
Maxwell predicted Cummins would trouble India when the third day’s play resumes.
“He’s a guy who can get that variable bounce with the way he digs the ball into the wicket,” he said of his team mate.
“Hopefully, he’s extremely effective for us tomorrow. That extra pace is hard to adjust…”
The four-Test series is all square at 1-1. –Reuters