New Delhi: At 25 years of age, captaining the Australian team and carrying the side's batting against India once again shows why Steve Smith is a sheer class act in modern day cricket. Smith scored a well made 72* and kept Aussies in the hunt of getting another big total in the third Test match against India in Melbourne on Friday.
For the 70,000 odd fans at the MCG, the 72-run unbeaten innings was of substance and grit and it was a fitting Boxing Day present to them in the festive season.
Smith has been a revelation for Australia and in him they have found a perfect leader and a middle order batsman who has grown in the longer format of the game. This is Smith's second Test as a skipper and after a convincing victory in Brisbane, Smith looks set to get his team perform well here at Melbourne too.
Smith batted beautifully in a pressure situation after lunch when the hosts lost two quick wickets. Since then till the end he carried on the responsibility like a leader and notched another fifty. He played both pace and spin alike and never look vulnerable against the Indian bowlers from the start. Smith is a danger the Indians need to to face and so far in all three Tests they have let him rule the game.
Smith completed his 1000th-run in the calendar year in Tests after flicking Murali Vijay to get to the landmark. He was the second player of the day to record the milestone after New Zealand skipper Brendon McCullum, who got his feat against Sri Lanka earlier on Friday. Smith has an impressive 84.33 batting average in 2014 to sum up with four centuries so far.
Smith is also 18 runs away in registering 2000 runs in Test cricket.
Smith's batting has been a fairytale and against India his scores have looked phenomenal. After registering 52* and 162* in the Adelaide Test, Smith scored 133 and 28 in Brisbane and here too he looked solid in his score of 72*. If he gets a ton on Saturday, it will be his third century of the series.
After an amazing Test series individually against Pakistan, he set the tempo high in the ODI series against South Africa and was essential for the Aussies.
India need quick wickets on Saturday and they must come up with a game-plan against marathon man Smith as it rests on the Aussie skipper to get the Test match swing highly in Australia's favour.