PUNE : Steve Smith was under 19 and yet to make first-class debut when India scripted their most famous win in Australia. The one in Perth in January 2008 ended Ricky Ponting’s team’s winning streak of 16 Tests. They were the No 1 team back then and the WACA ground was known as their bastion for its assistance for fast bowlers.
Australians must be cherishing the fact their unbelievable win against the No 1 team now came on a pitch meant for the home team’s biggest strength --- spin. Coincidentally, it ended India’s unbeaten run of 19 Tests under Virat Kohli, other than snapping the spell of 20 Tests at home without a defeat.
It was also Australia’s first win in India after 2004 and Smith surprised by saying he knew exactly how long the wait was. “We haven’t won a game here in 4,502 days. I’ve been told those facts. It has been an incredibly long time,” the skipper said with a smile. “A lot of cricket remains to be played in the series, but this win is right up there with whatever I’ve been part of.”
About the difference between spinners of the two teams, Smith said it was the fuller length his team bowled. “Nathan (Lyon) and Steve (O’Keefe) bowled good length and hit that length consistently. If you challenge the defence and beat the bat on both sides, you have a good chance to take wickets on that pitch. Sock (O’Keefe) beat the bat on both sides, found the edge and hit the pad consistently. If you’re attacking the stumps like that, you’re going to get rewards.”
On a pitch expected suit Indian batsmen and land Australians in trouble, Smith crafted a century to put the issue beyond the dreams of the most ardent of India fans. Dancing around the crease to unsettle bowlers, he was lucky to be dropped a few times, but made most of it by registering the only century of the match.
“I obviously rode my luck throughout the innings, but you need a bit of that on a wicket like this. I was pleased with myself to score a second innings hundred in India. It was about formulating different plans and sort of problem solving on the spot. From that aspect, I’m pleased with myself that we were able to get such a big lead.”