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‘Superstar’ Smith breaks 3-year drought

Steve Smith has been a shadow of his former self this series, but the cricket greats always know how to bounce back.The batting maestro plundered the 27th century of his Test career at the SCG on Friday, breaking a three-year drought on Australian soil.Smith’s previous Test century at home came against England at the MCG…

Steve Smith has been a shadow of his former self this series, but the cricket greats always know how to bounce back.

The batting maestro plundered the 27th century of his Test career at the SCG on Friday, breaking a three-year drought on Australian soil.

Smith’s previous Test century at home came against England at the MCG in December 2017, before his suspension and the ball-tampering scandal.

Since returning from the 2019 Ashes series, Smith has struggled to unearth the runs he typically compiles on Australian pitches, averaging 26.40 with the bat in that period.

But the 32-year-old has marked his long-awaited return to form with a classy knock at his home ground.

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Smith was 31 not out overnight, and started day two of the New Year’s by slowly rotating the strike with Australian prodigy Marnus Labuschagne.

But Labuschagne’s dismissal in the morning session ignited a collapse, with Australia losing 5/72 during the disappointing passage of play.

However, Smith was unmoved at the crease, and steered the hosts towards a respectable first innings total.

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After what seemed an eternity stuck on 99, he reached three figures with a delicate glance towards square leg, and the Sydney spectators promptly roared with delight.

Smith’s relief and jubilance was immediately apparent, whipping off the helmet and swinging his bat towards the Members’ Stand.

“It‘s an outstanding hundred from an outstanding cricketer,” former Australian wicketkeeper Adam Gilchrist said on Fox Cricket.

“A statement of the highest quality for Steve Smith … this fine batsman rises again.”

Former Australian Test captain Ricky Ponting said on Channel 7: “There’d been questions asked … ‘Were we worried about the slump that he’s in?’

“Absolutely not. You never got worried about class players because you know a big innings is just around the corner.”

READ MORE: Ponting slams ‘reckless’ star

Smith started to accelerate after passing 100, but was eventually removed by a superb piece from Indian all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja.

After flicking the ball through square leg, Smith scampered through for a quick two, only for Jadeja to find the batsman short of his ground with a direct hit.

Smith ended the innings on 131, and justly received a standing ovation from the SCG crowd as he returned to the pavilion.

“I’m reading a lot of things people say that I’m out form but think I think there’s a difference between out of form and out of runs,” Smith told Fox Cricket.

“Just nice to score a few and maybe keep a few people quiet.”

MOST TEST CENTURIES AGAINST INDIA

Garfield Sobers (WI) – 8

Viv Richards (WI) – 8

Ricky Ponting (AUS) – 8

Steve Smith (AUS) – 8

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