I’m very happy with 97-run lead: Steve Smith

Australian skipper Steve Smith said he is delighted that his side could push their first innings’.

Australia skipper Steve Smith (30) virtually threw his wicket away in the second over of the day, dancing down the track to slog the left-arm spinner only to miss the line and be stumped. (Reuters)

Australian skipper Steve Smith said he is delighted that his side could push their first innings’ total past 500-runs and take a sizeable lead in the second cricket Test against India.

The hosts replied to India’s 408-run total with 506 in their first innings with the captain himself scoring a hundred and Mitchell Johnson smacking a quick-fire 88 runs.

“We were six down for 240-odd and Mitchell Johnson came out and took the charge to the Indian bowling,” Smith told reporters.

“He took them on and played some terrific cricket. He was positive from ball one. They tried to get stuck in to him and he took them on because it played into his favour. They didn’t really have an answer to him after that.

“To be fair the whole tail batted beautifully to get us up over the 500-mark. It was remarkable and we had a good day of cricket in the end. It was outstanding from Mitchell Starc and Nathan Lyon as well. Josh Hazlewood on debut was very good with the bat as well. They gave us a lead of 90-odd and it was a very good position,” he added.

The newly-appointed skipper was humble about his own Test hundred on debut as captain. It was his sixth overall hundred and second of the series so far.

“I said before in the pre-match conference that I wanted to lead from the front. So obviously I am delighted with this hundred as well,” said Smith, who became the ninth Australian skipper to score a hundred on captaincy debut.

“I have done it in this game and hopefully it will continue in the future. Any hundred you score for Australia is a good one. But I am happier that we got 500 runs on the board. There is no point thinking about individual performances if the team is not doing well. So I am really happy with lead of 90,” said the young captain.

Perhaps the conditions got the better of the Indian team as they were simply unable to counter the opposition’s charge. They kept bowling short and helped the Australian tail-enders to double the score after Brad Haddin had got out.

“I think it was a little frustrating for the Indians. It is tough work in this heat. We faced it while bowling in our first innings and we had a couple of bowlers going down. The heat and humidity really gets you out there. So when the tail bats like that, it is really a nightmare for the opposition,” said Smith.

“The first day was the toughest I have ever faced leading any side. When bowlers go down any team will find it tough. But I have really enjoyed the last couple of days and the boys have supported me really well. We need to come out and take early wickets to stay in the game from here on,” he added.

India reached 71/1 in their second innings and are now only 26 runs behind. The match still hangs in balance going into day four.

“We said this morning that we wanted big partnerships and we managed to do that. If you get in on this wicket, it is one of the best places to bat in the world. So credit goes to our tailenders. I am really happy with their performance,” Smith said.

“The wicket has sped up a little bit each day as it does here. But it is still playing good and there haven’t been any tricks. The batsmen have been able to come and do what they want to do. Tomorrow it will be about building patience and bowling in the right areas,” he signed off.

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