Smith's latest century gives Australia huge total
Steve Smith joined some illustrious company with his fourth century in as many Tests, steering Australia into a commanding position yesterday in the fourth Test against India.
Smith scored 117 and shared a 196-run stand with Shane Watson (81) and all of Australia's top six batsmen surpassed 50 runs in the same Test innings for the first time, lifting the total to 572-7 before declaring after tea yesterday on day two at the Sydney Cricket Ground.
India lost a wicket before scoring a run in reply - Mitchell Starc having Murali Vijay caught behind with the third ball - before Rohit Sharma (40 not out) and Lokesh Rahul (31 not out) combined to steady the innings and reach 71-1 at stumps.
Bat has dominated ball in all six sessions so far, with 25-year-old Smith exploiting the conditions again. He levelled the marks of Australian legend Don Bradman (vs South Africa in 1931-32) and South Africa great Jacques Kallis (vs West Indies in 2003-04) in scoring four hundreds in four consecutive Tests of a series.
"It's been a pretty special summer for me personally, with some of the results that I've got," Smith said. "The success the team has had over the last little bit has been outstanding and we're in another good position in this Test match."
Smith, promoted to the test captaincy due to Michael Clarke's latest recurrence of back and hamstring trouble, was eventually caught behind off Umesh Yadav's bowling with the Australian total at 400. He leads the scoring this series with 698 runs at an average of 139.6.
Only Bradman (715 runs in 1947-48) and Ricky Ponting (706 runs in 2003-04) have scored more runs in a series between Australia and India.
With David Warner (101) and Chris Rogers (95) sharing a 200-run stand on the opening day, followed by Smith and Watson, Shaun Marsh (73) and Joe Burns (58) completed the set for Australia's specialist batsmen with half centuries.
But Watson was disappointed after failing to convert a promising start into a century again, out this time heaving a short-pitched Mohammad Shami (5-112) delivery straight to deep mid-wicket where Ravi Ashwin made no mistake taking the catch - he dropped Watson on the penultimate ball of day one.
Watson has 24 half centuries to go with only four Test hundreds in his 55 Tests.
"The tail has really helped us out throughout this series," said Smith. "The batters have left it up to them a little bit with a few starts and left it up to the tail.
"I really wanted the batters to get the brunt of the runs this Test match and they did that perfectly."
Australia hold an unassailable 2-0 series lead, after regaining the Border-Gavaskar Trophy, with two wins and a draw in the first three Tests.