Smith’s 30th Test hundred extends Australia’s domination

by Staff •  Published on Thu, Jan 5, 2023,

Steve Smith surpassed Don Bradman’s tally of Test hundreds to get his 30th as Australia’s batting domination carried forward in the second session. Usman Khawaja too, went from one milestone to another to finish with an undefeated 172 at the Tea break, while Australia got to 394 for 3.

Conditions at the SCG continued to side with the hosts as Khawaja and Smith pushed on from their 100-plus stand from the morning session to pile on the misery for South Africa. The South African pacers got so little from the pitch that just four overs since taking the new ball, Dean Elgar turned to his spinner – Simon Harmer. Smith made it worse for South Africa by giving Harmer the charge and hitting him for a six early on.

It was telling of Kagiso Rabada’s low impact in this fixture that he wasn’t Elgar’s first choice – or second – to share new-ball duties with Nortje. It could be seen why when he eventually came on in the second session as he was taken apart by Khawaja. Rabada got just a three-over spell where he leaked 22 runs before Elgar turned to his other spinner, Keshav Maharaj. Fourteen of those runs conceded by Rabada came in a single over when Khawaja first cut a short and wide ball through point, and then saw an outside edge fly to third man fence before ending the over with a dab between slip and gully.

For a brief period, Elgar even employed spin from both ends but without getting desired results. After the drinks break, he brought back Nortje who tried to create something out of absolutely nothing on the drab surface. His effort too went unrewarded as the Australian duo comfortably added to the home team’s tally.

Smith soon got to his century off 190 deliveries, becoming joint-third on the list of Australia’s Test centurions with Matthew Hayden. But three balls later, what followed was a soft dismissal completely against the run of play when he hit a tossed up delivery from Maharaj back to the bowler to give South Africa their first wicket of the day. The muted celebrations conveyed what they’d been through for more than a session-and-a-half until that point.

Even as Smith walked off for 104, Khawaja carried on in same vein. He’d gone past 150 just before Smith’s dismissal, and did so in a stroke-filled knock that saw his fours tally go up to 17 by the tea break. Travis Head hit a couple of fours since arriving too as Australia neared the 400-run mark.

Brief scores: Australia 394/3 (Usman Khawaja 172*, Steve Smith 104, Marnus Labuschagne 79; Anrich Nortje 2-55) vs South Africa

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