|Third Test, Sydney Cricket Ground (day two)|
|Australia 338: Smith 131, Labuschagne 91; Jadeja 4-62|
|India 96-2: Gill 50|
|India trail by 242 runs|
Australia’s Steve Smith ended his 16-month wait for a Test hundred on day two of a finely poised third Test against India.
Smith scored 131 from 226 balls, his first century since the fourth Ashes Test against England in September 2019.
Marnus Labuschagne made 91 but, after he fell, Smith received little support, the final seven wickets falling for 106 as the hosts were dismissed for 338.
India battled to 96-2 at the close in Sydney, 242 runs behind.
Openers Rohit Sharma and Shubman Gill put on 70 for the opening wicket before Rohit was caught and bowled for 26 by Josh Hazlewood and Gill was caught at gully off Pat Cummins for 50, his maiden Test fifty.
Both wickets came within six overs, and Cheteshwar Pujara and captain Ajinkya Rahane batted defensively until the close.
Should Pujara and Rahane form a significant partnership on Saturday, India will be favourites to win this Test and take a 2-1 lead in the four-match series.
On a good batting pitch, Australia – resuming on 166-2 – should have posted a far greater first-innings total from 206-2 with Smith and Labuschagne sharing a stand of 100.
Instead, Smith could only form small partnerships with the middle and lower order. Mitchell Starc, with 24, was the only other Australian to pass 20 on the day.
Smith was last man out, brilliantly run out by Ravindra Jadeja by a direct hit from square leg, having brought up his 27th Test hundred.
His celebration upon reaching the landmark suggested relief and frustration – the 14 innings between centuries was the longest spell in his career since going 22 innings from debut to maiden hundred in 2013.
Smith, who made two successive centuries in the one-day series against India but had scored 10 runs in four previous innings in the Test series, said: “I’m reading lots of things people say about out of form, but think there’s a difference between out of form and out of runs, so it was just nice to score a few and maybe keep a few people quiet.”
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