India hits back after Smith’s epic knock

India hits back after Smith’s epic knock

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Australia’s Glenn Maxwell celebrates his century as captain Steven Smith (L) watches during the third cricket Test against India at the Jharkhand State Cricket Association Stadium in Ranchi Friday. — Reuters
Australia’s Glenn Maxwell celebrates his century as captain Steven Smith (L) watches during the third cricket Test against India at the Jharkhand State Cricket Association Stadium in Ranchi Friday. — Reuters

RANCHI, India — Opener Lokesh Rahul struck a fluent half-century to lead a strong Indian reply after Australia skipper Steve Smith’s marathon knock helped the visitors post a formidable 451 in the third Test Friday.

The hosts were 120 for one at stumps in Ranchi, with Murali Vijay (42) and Cheteshwar Pujara (10) batting at the break. India still trails the visitors by 331 in its first innings.

Earlier, Smith’s unbeaten 178 was the bedrock of the tourists’ innings which also featured a maiden Test century by all-rounder Glenn Maxwell.

In reply, Rahul (67) showed resolve against a probing Australian pace attack before falling to Pat Cummins on a sharp rising delivery that got the batsman’s gloves for an easy catch to the wicketkeeper.

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.

After Rahul’s departure, Vijay took control with Pujara for company as the duo played out the rest of the day with some assured stroke-making.

Josh Hazlewood and Cummins, who is making a return after playing just one Test for Australia, back in 2011, worked up good pace on what still seems a decent batting wicket.

Earlier, with Australia resuming the day on 299-4, Smith and Maxwell put on a 191-run partnership to help the tourists post the biggest innings total so far in the four-match series.

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 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.

But it was the 28-year-old Maxwell who set the tone for Australia’s continued dominance with his first Test ton in just his fourth game since making his debut in 2013.

India’s plight was deepened by the absence of skipper Virat Kohli who has been off the field since Thursday afternoon with an injured shoulder. However, vice captain Ajinkya Rahane stood in for Kohli and did a good job too.

Shahzaib Hasan suspended

Batsman Shahzaib Hasan has become the fifth player to be suspended for spot fixing in the Pakistan Super League Twenty20 tournament, the country’s cricket board said Friday.

The 27-year-old was provisionally suspended and charged by the board as part of an anti-corruption investigation into spot-fixing in the PSL.

Shahzaib, who has represented Pakistan in three One-Day Internationals and 10 T20 matches, has been charged with three violations of the PCB’s anti-corruption code and has 14 days to respond to the charge.

Pace bowler Mohammad Irfan, batsmen Sharjeel Khan and Khalid Latif were provisionally suspended last month while former opener Nasir Jamshed was suspended and arrested in England as part of the same investigation Jamshed was later let out on bail. — AgenciesSteven
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