Sport Cricket Smith drought-breaker has Test in balance
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Smith drought-breaker has Test in balance

Steve Smith waves to the crowd as he walks from the field after he was run out for 131. Photo: AP
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Steve Smith’s first Test century on home soil in three years has kept Australia in the crucial third Test against India at the SCG.

As wickets tumbled around him, Smith broke his Test century drought before Australia were dismissed for 338, and India went to tea on day two unscathed at 0-26 in reply.

The former captain’s 131 marked his first Test ton in Australia since the ball-tampering scandal and was also his first anywhere in 16 months.

He celebrated his 27th Test century in passionate style, twice thrusting his bat in the air in a mix of relief and jubilation.

Smith made a point of playing more positively after being dismissed cheaply on the first two Tests, driving gloriously down the ground throughout his knock.

The 31-year-old then took that to extremes late, with his last 27 runs coming from 14 balls before being the last man out to a superb Ravindra Jadeja direct hit for a run out.

Smith’s century went some way toward fixing Australia’s batting woes against the tourists.

With Smith out of the side two summers ago, not one Australian passed 100 in the historic 2-1 home series loss to India.

His triple figures on Friday helped them to their biggest score of the summer so far, as the hosts went past 200 for the first time this series.

But Australia will still feel frustrated as no-one went big with him as Jadeja claimed 4-62 and Jasprit Bumrah 2-66.

Australia were at one stage 2-206 off the back of debutant Will Pucovski’s 62 when Marnus Labuschagne was caught at first slip on 91.

Labuschagne barely looked troubled before Jadeja got his edge, bringing to an end a 100-run stand with Smith.

Jadeja struck again to remove Matt Wade, whose 13 didn’t do Australia any favours when he came down the wicket and got a leading edge.

Matthew Wade, right, watches as he is caught off Jasprit Bumrah’s bowling. Photo: AP

Cameron Green (0) and Tim Paine (1) both fell to Bumrah inswingers, with Green plum lbw and Paine losing his off bail to one that went between bat and pad.

And when Pat Cummins played over the top of a full ball from Jadeja to be bowled for a duck, Australia had lost 5-72.

Mitchell Starc managed to up the ante somewhat with 24 from just 30 balls, before Smith also raised the tempo.

With the series locked at 1-1 and just one more Test to come, a win for India in Sydney would be enough for them to retain the Border-Gavaskar Trophy.

-AAP