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Brisbane Day 3: Smith, tail-enders give Australia vital 97-run lead

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Brisbane: Steve Smith continued to torment India with his second successive century as Australia relied on their tail-enders to stage an amazing recovery and gain a vital 97-run first-innings lead in the second cricket Test here today.

Smith (133) became the ninth Australian to score a century on his captaincy debut as the hosts wriggled out of a precarious 247 for six to post a mammoth 505 in their first innings with Mitchell Johnson (88) and Mitchell Starc (52) making valuable contributions down the order at the Gabba.

By the end of third day’s play, India reduced the deficit to 26 runs with Shikhar Dhawan and Cheteshwar Pujara batting on 26 and 15 respectively. They were 71 for one at stumps on what turned out to be a rather disappointing day for the visitors.

The last four Australian wickets added 258 runs to virtually take the game from India, who looked like taking the first-innings lead at one stage.

Resuming the day on overnight 221 for four with Smith unbeaten on 65, Australia lost Mitchell Marsh for the addition of just 11 runs to Umesh Yadav (3/101) before Varun Aaron (2/145) had Brad Haddin caught at short leg.

But the Indian bowlers struggled thereafter as the duo of Smith and Johnson quickly went on to share a 148-run stand for the seventh wicket, a record at this venue. The runs came off just 26 overs, giving ample indication of the way they punished the visiting side bowlers.

This was Smith’s second consecutive hundred in the series, having reached the three-figure mark in the opener in Adelaide.

With the two batsmen going strong, Australia went to lunch at 351 for six, and consolidated their position thereafter to be sitting pretty at 503 for nine at the tea break.

However, the Indians wrapped up the innings soon after tea with last man Starc being bowled by Ravichandran Ashwin (2/128), bringing some relief to the visitors who toiled in the first two sessions.

When India’s turn to bat came again, first-innings centurion Murali Vijay (27) was snared by Starc after the batsman had hit a few boundaries. Dhawan and Pujara then saw off the last few overs without any further casualty.

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