Warner, Smith rule India in fourth Test
Australian skipper Steve Smith hit an unbeaten half-century, keeping up his purple patch with the bat in the series-deciding fourth and final Test against India on Saturday.
The 27-year-old right-hander struck 10 fours in his brisk 72-run knock to steer the tourists to 131-1 at lunch on the opening day of the rubber.
David Warner (54 not out) was the other unbeaten batsman at the break after Smith won the toss and elected to bat at Dharamsala, India’s newest Test venue which is nestled in the foothills of the snow-capped Himalayas.
Smith’s efforts meant he continued to lead the batting chart in the series with a whopping 443 runs from six innings so far.
The unassuming captain underlined his reputation as the world number one Test batsman, reaching his 21st half-century in the process.
He carted India’s premium spinner Ravichandran Ashwin for two fours in three balls, looking completely at ease against the five-pronged Indian bowling attack.
Smith’s run in the series has been in contrast to his opposite number Virat Kohli who was forced to sit out of the game with a shoulder injury.
As a batsman, Kohli has had a series to forget, having managed only 46 runs from five innings.
Before this game, Kohli played 54 Tests on the trot without missing a match since November 2011.
Warner, dropped off the first ball of the innings, made full use of the reprieve to roar back among runs after a disappointing outing in the previous three Tests.
The left-hander, who has faced 79 balls so far, hit Ashwin for a huge six over the mid-off on way to his 24th Test fifty.
It was paceman Umesh Yadav who gave India an early breakthrough by dismissing young opener Matt Renshaw in the second over of the day.
Renshaw tried to go for an expansive drive but the ball swung in sharply and ricochetted into the wicket.
But that was the only success the Indians enjoyed in a lively opening session which saw the visitors score at a healthy rate of more than four runs an over.
Chinaman bowler Kuldeep Yadav, who earned his Test cap Saturday, had bowled two overs so far.