India reply strongly after Smith’s epic knock



Allrounder Glenn Maxwell hailed his “awesome” skipper Steve Smith after the duo’s 191-run partnership helped Australia post a formidable first innings total against India in the third Test in Ranchi Friday.
Maxwell, returning to the five-day side after nearly three years in the wilderness, cracked his maiden Test century on day two but it was Smith’s unbeaten 178 that was the bedrock of the tourists’ 451.
Opener Lokesh Rahul led India’s strong reply in the final session with the hosts ending the day on 120 for one. India still trail the visitors by 331 runs.
Murali Vijay (42) and Cheteshwar Pujara (10) were batting at the break after Rahul was out caught behind for 67 off fast bowler Pat Cummins.
Rahul, who hit 9 fours in his 102-ball stay, registered his fourth fifty of the series to put on 91 runs with opening partner Vijay.
But it was the epic partnership between Smith and Maxwell that steered Australia to the highest total of the series so far after the visitors resumed the day on 299-4.
“I think we were 4-140 and luckily I had Steve at the other end who is quite experienced,” Maxwell told reporters.
“He probably lifts the team to another level because he makes the game look so easy.
“We watch him play and everyone’s in awe of the way he goes about it.
“So he’s a guy that people feed off. And he’s a very inspirational leader with the way he’s gone about his career,” Maxwell said of his skipper who is the world’s top-ranked Test batsman.
Left-arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja claimed his eighth five-wicket haul in his 29th match to return with figures of 5-124.
Jadeja ran out last man Josh Hazlewood (0) to deny Smith the chance of posting the second double century in his 53rd match of his career.
Smith though registered the highest score by an Australian captain on Indian soil after surpassing Michael Clarke’s 130 in Chennai in the 2012-13 series.
It was an especially satisfying innings for the Australian captain after the build-up to the match had been dogged by accusations that he had systematically abused the decision review system (DRS) in the last Test.—AFP