Captain Steven Smith continued his dream run by notching up his fourth century of the series as Australia piled up a mammoth 572 for seven declared to put themselves firmly in the driver’s seat in the fourth and final cricket Test against India here on Wendesday.
The young Australian captain, who has been in stupendous form, scored 117 to record his eighth Test ton and put Australia in a commanding position with useful contributions from Shane Watson (81), Shaun Marsh (73) and Joe Burns (58) on yet another disappointing day for the visitors.
In reply, India lost opener Murali Vijay for a nought only to recover and end the second day on 71 for one. The visitors trail by 501 runs with Lokesh Rahul (31 not out) and Rohit Sharma (40 not out) fighting on.
Earlier, resuming at the overnight score of 348 for two, the hosts rode on a 196-run third wicket partnership between Smith and Watson to take the attack back to the opposition as Mohammed Shami picked up a five-wicket haul.
India though, ably led by Shami (5-112), seemed to have learnt their lessons from the opnening day to concede just 72 runs in 30 overs in the first session of play. Two wickets fell in the morning session and Watson was the first to go when Shami struck for the second time in the innings to deny the No.3 batsman in what would have been a well-deserved hundred. He added only 20 runs to his overnight score.
Smith played a defiant knock to post his fourth ton in this series only to be caught behind off Umesh Yadav (1-137) in the 114th over of the innings. But the visitors were once again put to task in the post-lunch when Marsh and Burns managed a 114-run fifth wicket stand to pile on the misery for Virat Kohli and company.
Shami once again picked up the all-important wicket of Marsh, the only wicket for India in the post-lunch session, as the left-hander was caught behind after registering his third Test fifty.
Shami then came back all guns blazing in the final session to send back Burns after the youngster got his maiden Test fifty in just his second match.
Ryan Harris (25) then swung his bat around to hit five boundaries before becoming Shami’s fifth strike of the innings. The Indians, understandably, were more sedate in their reply after losing Vijay and Lokesh and Sharma stitched an unbeaten 71-run stand to raise hopes of revival come day three. Rohit and Rahul batted with patience for much of the final session of play, with the 50-mark coming in the 19th over. But there were some nerves towards the end as the bowlers searched for one more breakthrough before end of play.
Earlier, Australia had continued their charge towards a high first innings total after tea. Harris, courtesy his 9-ball cameo, helped put up 26 runs for the seventh wicket with Brad Haddin (9 not out) to pile on the misery for India. Shami then dismissed Harris and the innings was declared. Ashwin (1-142) and Yadav were the other wicket-takers for India, while Bhuvneshwar Kumar (0-122) and Suresh Raina (0-53) went wicketless.
This was after the Smith and Watson show that put Australia on the road to a big score. Post-lunch, Marsh and Burns looked to heap further misery on the visiting bowling attack and they did just that, putting on 114 runs for the 5th wicket without much fuss. The 450-mark came up for Australia in the 127th over as the two batsmen kept plugging for runs.