Centurion Steven Smith was the architect of Australia’s fightback on the opening day of the third Ashes Test and he believes the embryonic match is evenly poised.
Smith’s unbeaten 103, his first home international hundred, lifted the hosts from 143 for five shortly after lunch to 326 for six by stumps as they seek an series-clinching victory at Perth.
The 24-year-old right-hander, whose other Australia ton was in August’s Kia Oval Ashes Test, combined with Brad Haddin for a sixth-wicket stand worth 124 and then added an unbroken 59 alongside Mitchell Johnson.
“It’s probably about even, I think,” Smith said. “The wicket’s pretty good. Hopefully we can cash in in the morning, get 400, 450. You know, really be able to set the game up from there.”
Smith came into the contest under some scrutiny given he had not exceeded 31 in his five Test knocks since making 138 not out at The Oval. Australia’s mid-innings slide added to the heat, literal and metaphorical, on him in 40-degree conditions.
“I think it was a pretty tough part of the game. They’d taken a few wickets and they were pretty high,” he added. “To dig through there and get through a few of their big bowlers’ spells and really start to cash in late in the day, that was the plan.
“Obviously (I was) under a little bit of pressure there losing a few wickets in the middle, but I was lucky enough to build a partnership with Hads and Mitch then there at the end, and we’re in a decent position hopefully. If we start well tomorrow we can post a really good score.
“It’s probably right up there for me in my career. I was obviously under a little bit of pressure coming into this game, having not scored very many runs and I guess the position of the game as well.
“I was really happy with the way I was hitting the ball in the nets and from ball one today I felt pretty good. I think I summed up the conditions pretty well and it paid off in the end.”