Steve Smith has been a pivotal member of Australia’s batting line-up ever since the retirement of key players like Ricky Ponting and Michael Clarke. His consistency and adaptability have helped him notch up plenty of runs in tough conditions and in the current series against India, his vital century in Pune helped Australia break a 13-year jinx and register a win in India. (DAY 1 INDIA vs AUSTRALIA UPDATES RANCHI)
The Ranchi Test has already proven to be memorable for Australia. First, they became only the second nation in history to play 800 Tests. In the same match, in the fifth ball of the 58th over, Smith, who is the captain of the Australian team, drove a flighted ball from Ravindra Jadeja to long-off to join a very illustrious club. (SCORECARD RANCHI TEST)
Smith became the third-fastest Australian and joint-seventh overall to reach 5000 runs in Tests. Don Bradman heads the list by reaching the landmark in just 56 innings while among Australian batsmen, Matthew Hayden is second on the list by reaching the landmark in 95 innings. Smith brought up his milestone in his 53rd Test and 97th innings.
Things got better for Smith towards the end of the first day’s play. In the fifth ball of the 83rd over bowled by Murali Vijay, Smith drilled a flighted delivery down the ground to notch up his 19th century and sixth versus India. He also became the third visiting skipper to score two tons in a series against India since West Indies’ Clive Lloyd (twice in 1974/75 and 1983/84) and England’s Alastair Cook in 2012.
In the current series, Smith is the only batsman to have scored centuries. His tally of six centuries against India is the highest he has against any country in Tests. By stumps on day 1, Smith was on 117* and Glenn Maxwell, making a comeback to the Test side since 2014, was on 82*. Their partnership of 159 is the best fifth-wicket stand for Australia in Tests vs India in India.
If one looks at number of Tests played, Smith is third in the all-time list to have reached 5000 runs. While Bradman got 5000 runs in just 36 Tests, Indian batting legend Sunil Gavaskar is next on the list by getting to the landmark in just 52 Tests.
If one looks at number of innings, England’s Jack Hobbs is second on the list with 91 innings while West Indies’ Gary Sobers, Gavaskar, Hayden and Vivian Richards are tied with 95 innings. Smith is joint seventh with Wally Hammond and Ken Barrington with 97 innings.
Smith the best in the world
In the last three years, Smith has established himself as one of the best batsmen to perform away from home. His record since the start of 2014 and till the Ranchi Test is among the best by any batsmen.
From January 2014 till the Ranchi Test in 2017, Smith has scored over 1800 runs in just 18 Tests at an average of 67.44 with seven centuries. His tons have come in South Africa, England, Sri Lanka and in India. Only New Zealand’s Kane Williamson has a better average with 68.04 when compared to Smith. The right-hander enjoyed his most prolific year in 2015, when he smashed six centuries and averaged over 73.7 in the year.
Smith prolific in the sub-continent
Smith’s contribution gains greater significance when one looks at his record in the sub-continent, a part of the world where visiting batsmen have struggled. Since 2014, the Australian skipper has been the best batsmen by a long way. He currently has over 500 runs in the sub-continent in this period at an average of close to 50 and he has three centuries, one in Sri Lanka and two in the current series.
His record against India, the world No.1 Test side is truly remarkable. In the 2014/15 series, he smashed 726 runs, including four consecutive centuries at an average of over 100 as Australia won the series 2-0. In the ongoing four-Test series against India, he smashed a century in Pune and another one in Ranchi. He currently averages over 80 in Tests against India and overall, he has an average of over 60.