MUMBAI: Captain Steven Smith started the tour in impressive fashion by compiling his 30th first class century to help Australia reach 211-2 at tea on the opening day of their warm-up game against India A here today. Australia, 81 for two after having lost openers David Warner (25) and Matt Renshaw (11) before lunch, added 130 runs in the second session in 33 overs without losing any more wickets at the Brabourne Stadium.
At tea, Smith – who has scored 17 hundreds in 50 Tests – was on 107 in his 100th first class game, off 161 balls and in 199 minutes, inclusive of 12 fours and one six, while Marsh was on 59, which came in 160 minutes and 114 balls and also included 5 fours and one six. Warner and Renshaw were both dismissed by first change home team medium pacer Navdeep Saini before the visitors recovered poise through the 156-run stand between right-handed Smith and left-handed Marsh in 40.5 overs.
Smith, who arrived at the crease at the fall of his deputy Warner in the 9th over of the innings, batted fluently and was hardly troubled by the bowling barring once when he edged left-arm spinner Shahbaz Nadeem short of the slip fielder when on 55. He, otherwise, played the slow bowler with lot of confidence by using his feet well and also smacked him for an on-driven six soon after lunch. He completed his century in 154 balls with the help of 11 fours and a six in 186 minutes.
Marsh too took cue from his captain and began to play with increasing confidence to complete his half century in 86 balls and 131 minutes. The third-wicket duo completed the century stand in 41.1 overs and in 140 minutes and looked well in control against a none-too-impressive bowling attack on a pitch that had eased out considerably in the afternoon session. Earlier, Australia lost both the left-handed openers, vice-captain Warner and the tall England-born Renshaw in the pre-lunch session after they were put in to bat by India A captain Hardik Pandya.
For the home team, Delhi's Navdeep Saini was the most impressive bowler in a fine first spell of 6-2-13-2 while the other two medium pacers –- captain Pandya and Ashok Dinda -- could not extract as much help from the green-tinged pitch offering good bounce. Shahbaz was given a long spell by skipper Pandya without making much of an impression after bowling 17 overs in which he gave away 71 runs without any wicket to his name.
Strangely frontline off-spinner Krishnappa Gowtham was not called upon to bowl a single over while part timer Akhil Herwadkar bowled seven overs for 23 runs. Australia began cautiously in the morning period. Both the openers edged the bowlers on one occasion each through the slip cordon but Warner, as is his wont, also dispatched the loose balls to the fence. Dinda gave way to Saini after a four-over first spell and the Delhi medium pacer struck a blow in his very first over by packing off pocket dynamo Warner with a short ball that the left-hander tried to pull and got a top-edge to be caught behind by Ishan Kishan.
Warner's 25 came off 43 balls and he hit the ball to the fence on four occasions in his 40-minute essay. After the first drinks break, Smith started driving the ball fluently on the up and looked in no trouble against the medium pacers and drove them for well-timed fours, mainly in the "V". But Saini struck again in the fifth over after the drinks break by dismissing the stone-walling Renshaw with a ball that moved away a shade as the batsman poked at it and took the bat's edge for Kishan to grab the second catch of the morning.
Renshaw had occupied the crease for 84 minutes and struck a lone four in his 41-ball knock and at his dismissal the visitors were 55 for two. Smith and Marsh, who was not able to time the ball as well as his captain initially, took the visitors to lunch without any further loss.