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Australian skipper Steven Smith's knock along with Glenn Maxwell puts visitors to 299 for 4 at stumps on the opening day of the third Test between India and Australia at the JSCA International Stadium in Ranchi on Thursday.
With Smith on 117* and Maxwell on 82* at the crease, Australia has gone strengthen their position
India had the initial edge after taking three wickets of David Warner (19), Matt Renshaw (44) and Shaun Marsh (2) in the first session but after the initial jolt Australians played with maturity to deny the Indians any advantage.
Smith during the innings also reached 5000 Test runs, becoming the third fastest behind Sir Donald Bradman and Sunil Gavaskar to reach the feat.
For the visitors though, it was a field day as skipper Smith played a subdued knock and found the perfect ally in all-rounder Maxwell.
Maxwell showed good intent and curbed his aggressive instinct to register his maiden fifty in Test cricket.
His unbeaten 159-run partnership with Smith for the fifth wicket will definitely work wonders for the batsman's confidence.
He has indeed reaped the rewards of a disciplined approach at the crease.
David Warner and Matt Renshaw got the visitors off to a dream start by racing to fifty within 10 overs but threw away their wickets when it was time to consolidate.
Marsh failed to build on his good show in the second Test and was sent back by Ashwin, caught by Cheteshwar Pujara at forward short-leg, but Peter Handscomb looked keen to finally convert a start to a solid knock.
India had their moments though. Bad shot selection was to blame for Warner and Renshaw's dismissals but Umesh Yadav impressed most among bowlers.
The India captain injured his right shoulder while putting in a dive to save a boundary in the 40th over but had to leave the ground for the rest of the day. Ajinkya Rahane led in his absence and India broke through with Handscomb's wicket almost immediately after Kohli left but everything went downhill from there.
Handscomb drove, flicked and even ran the quick singles. But as luck would have it, he too was dismissed against the run of play by Umesh. The ball tailed in late to hit Handscomb (19) on the boot and there was no doubt in the umpire's mind that the Australian was caught plumb in front.
But that was the end of India's joy on the opening day as Maxwell and Smith combined beautifully to ensure that the visitors lost no further wickets. Joining Smith with the score on 140/4, it was important that Maxwell showed patience and application - something he has lacked in recent times, forcing his ouster from the Australian side.
Umesh Yadav was the pick of the Indian bowlers taking two wickets, as spinners R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja finished the day with a wicket apiece. The Indians struggled to stop the flow of runs in the first and third sessions, with the Australians managing more than a hundred runs in each of the sessions.
The four-test series is at 1-1 with the last match in Dharamsala.
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