Sydney: Australia batsman Steve Smith, who had a horrendous time in the first two Tests of the ongoing four-match series, especially against Ravichandran Ashwin, looked completely in charge on the rain-hit first day of the third Test at the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG), taking the attack to the Indian off-spinner by often coming down the track.
Smith, who had aggregated just 10 in the first two Tests, remained not out on 34 on Thursday and had added unbeaten 60 for the third wicket with Marnus Labuschagne who remained not out on 67 off 149 balls as Australia ended Day One on 166/2.
Right-arm pacer Mohammed Siraj attributed Smith’s confidence to the placid surface but added that there was a hint of spin towards the end of the day which gives India confidence.
“The wicket is very easy to bat on which is why they were coming down the track easily. But if you see towards the end, there was some turn, Jaddu (Jadeja) bhai and Ash (Ashwin) bhai got turn, so they were on the backfoot. Let us see what happens tomorrow,” said Siraj during the media interaction after the end of the day’s play.
Siraj, who took five wickets in the debut Test in Melbourne, further said that the ball is coming on to the bat quite well at the SCG.
“This wicket is quite flat and the ball is coming on to the bat. Our plan was to keep building pressure, bowling in one area. We don’t want to try much because it is very easy for batsmen to play on this surface. Even the bouncer was not like what was in Melbourne,” the 26-year-old said.
Wicketkeeper Rishabh Pant dropped opener Will Pucovski twice with the opener going onto make 62. One of the catches was off Siraj’s bowling while the other was off Ashwin’s bowling.
Speaking about that, Siraj said: “Dropped catches are part of the game. It was disappointing for a while but then we said that if something had to happen, it happens. You can’t stop it. We decided to take it ball by ball and not dwell in the past.”