KINGSTON –– A classy century from Steve Smith put Australia in command after the opening day of the second Test against West Indies at Sabina Park in Kingston, Jamaica, today.
Smith came to the wicket after only three balls and batted throughout the day, finishing unbeaten on 135 as Australia closed on 258 for 4.
It was the 26-year-old’s ninth Test century and the fifth in his last six Tests for Australia, who fielded an unchanged line-up following their nine-wicket victory in the first Test in Dominica.
West Indies captain Denesh Ramdin, who was without injured leg-spinner Devendra Bishoo, won the toss and decided to bowl on a pitch that had some grass.
His decision paid a quick dividend when David Warner was dismissed for a duck off the third ball, caught at third slip by Shai Hope off the bowling of Jerome Taylor.
That brought Smith to the crease and he quickly saw Shaun Marsh depart for 11 in the fifth over when he was trapped lbw by a Taylor ball that cut back from outside off stump with the score on 16.
Taylor, who finished the day with the superlative figures of 3 for 18 from 15 overs, was in the middle of brilliant spell which saw him send down six successive maidens but he was unable to remove either Smith or Michael Clarke.
Clarke could have been dismissed for only three when he was caught and bowled by Kemar Roach (0-65), only to be called back to the crease when a television replay showed it had been a no-ball. Roach, who missed the first Test in Dominica, had a poor opening spell and looked short of work during the first day’s play. He has been battling an assortment of injuries over the past year.
The Australia skipper took advantage of his let-off as he put on 118 for the third wicket with Smith before falling three short of a half century when he slashed at a wide delivery from Jason Holder and edged to Ramdin behind the stumps. Holder offered Taylor the main support and generally bowled probing lines on and about the off-stump.
Adam Voges, who made an unbeaten 130 in the first Test, then joined Smith, who brought up his 100 in the 65th over with a four off Veerasammy Permaul – he reached three figures from exactly 200 balls, with 12 fours and two sixes. Permaul (0-84), in the side because of Bishoo’s finger injury, hardly turned a ball all day and offered easy runs throughout his spells. Indeed, he was palpably out-bowled by part-time off-spinner Kraigg Brathwaite.
Voges made 37 before he departed in the 69th over after a fourth-wicket partnership of 76 with the score on 210 when he was caught behind by Ramdin off the bowling of the admirable Taylor.
Shane Watson and Smith then saw Australia through to stumps, although Smith survived two scares on 109 as he was dropped by Darren Bravo at first slip from a Brathwaite (0-39) delivery before successfully asking for a review when he was given out lbw by umpire Richard Kettleborough from a Taylor ball that was sliding down the leg side.
Smith will resume on 135 not out off 273 balls, featuring 16 fours and two sixes, with Watson unbeaten on 20.
Guyanese opener Rajendra Chandrika was given a Test debut after Marlon Samuels withdrew because of illness. Roach came into the side in place of Shannon Gabriel.