Steve Smith is again reminding the cricket world why he is the best Test batter of his generation as he completed his century on day 2 at The Oval against India and in the process shattering records. Ahead of the Test Championship Final against India, Virat Kohli lauded Smith as the best test batter of the last 10 years and the mercurial Aussie proved it once again having finished the day on 95 not out, alongside Travis Head on 146.
Head entered the crease with Australia in a precarious position having lost David Warner and Marnus Labuschagne shortly after. However, the South Australian played in his trademark swashbuckling style to help his team reach 3-327 at the end of play.
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And while Head scored at nearly a run a ball for his century, Smith played his typical patient innings to wear down the Indian quicks. And Smith finished the day unscathed on 95 runs.
It's rare to see Smith go relatively unnoticed on the pitch, but Australia's premier batter admitted just that. "I was playing second fiddle at the other end," Smith said of Head's innings.
And on day 2, Smith recorded his 31st Test century at the famous ground. He finished on 121 runs after yet another meticulous innings. His century saw his Test average go above 60 again after 94 tests. Head and Smith now become the first batters to score a 100+ and 200+ partnership in the Test Championship final.
And incredibly, Smith now averages more than 100 at The Oval. He joins Don Bradman and Rahul Dravid as the only three players to average more than 100 (having scored 400+ runs) at two or more grounds. Incredibly Smith has achieved this at three grounds.
Steve Smith closing in on records of Australian legends
Smith also passed the great Ricky Ponting with the most 50+ scores in ICC knockout matches. Smith equalled Joe Root with nine hundreds against India, having scored 2,000 runs against the cricket powerhouse alone.
Smith also matched the extraordinary feat of Steve Waugh by scoring a seventh century in England, with the incomparable Bradman (11) the only visiting batter with more tons. Smith is now just one century short of Waugh's 32 Test centuries, with Ponting (41 Test tons) the only Aussie above them on the all-time list.
Fans were left stunned at another Smith masterclass and showered the Aussie with praise as he further cements himself in cricket folklore.
Steve Smith's Test batting average 60 now - 8820 runs, 60 average.
The Greatest Test Batter of this Era! pic.twitter.com/vWYCjmzUjN
— CricketMAN2 (@ImTanujSingh) June 7, 2023
Averaging 100+ at the WC KOs and now about to score a century at the WTC Final . Light years ahead of everyone when we talk about clutch and big match player . Easily the greatest ever . Steve Smith 🐐 https://t.co/FtR9jKdT4k
— Manan (@mananthakurr) June 7, 2023
Steve Smith's last 10 scores in England
5 , 143 , 144 , 142 , 92
211 , 82 , 80 , 23 , 91(batting)
That's 1023 runs @ 112.55
— Pricviz (@Pric_viz_) June 7, 2023
Fifty in 2015 WC Quarter-Final.
Hundred in 2015 WC Semi-Final.
Fifty in 2015 WC Final.
Fifty in 2019 WC Semi-Final.
Fifty* in 2023 WTC Final.
Steve Smith is a big match player, stands tall for Australia. pic.twitter.com/83OVXZpPJM
— Johns. (@CricCrazyJohns) June 7, 2023
He's back into beast mode Smith again
— Dilen (@DilzzP) June 7, 2023
Fifty for Steve Smith.
The Test GOAT has played a grinding fifty in the biggest stage of Test cricket. pic.twitter.com/kWJ6ZLziZQ
— Johns. (@CricCrazyJohns) June 7, 2023
— Shubh Aggarwal (@shubh_chintak) June 7, 2023
Before the Test Championship Final, Kohli singled out Smith as the player to watch after some high-praise for one of his greatest rivals. “Steve Smith, according to me, is the best Test player of this generation. He has displayed that his adaptability is absolutely brilliant. You take any cricketer of this generation... in 85-90 Tests, he has an average of 60 which is quite unbelievable," Kohli said to Star Sports.
"The consistency and impact with which he scores runs, I haven't seen anyone else doing that in last 10 years. Definitely, Steve Smith, along with Marnus Labuschagne, are their main players in the batting order because they control their batting lineup."
Travis Head heroics help Australia in Test final
The Aussies lost the toss and were sent in to bat by India on day 1, who controversially left out the No.1 ranked bowler in Test cricket, Ravi Ashwin, after assessing the green pitch and overcast conditions and deciding to go with an extra seamer. The bold move looked to pay off after India removed opener Usman Khawaja for a duck, but the Aussies rebounded brilliantly.
David Warner did enough to ensure he will play in next week's first Ashes Test at Edgbaston with a fighting 43, before he was caught down leg side when a big score beckoned. Marnus Labuschagne ground out 26 runs before being clean bowled by Mohammed Shami, leaving Smith and Head to take up the charge for the Australians.
And it was Head that took control of the game as his aggressive style at No.5 replicated the days when Adam Gilchrist would come to the crease and destroy a team with punishing strokes. In just 106 balls, Head put Australia firmly in control as Smith toiled away.
Head didn't stop as he reached 146 at the end of play. On Day 2, Smith (121) and Travis Head (163) propelled Australia to 469 in their first innings, before the Aussie bowlers ripped through India's top order to leave them 5-151 at stumps.
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