Australia star batsman Steve Smith marked his return to international cricket with a third hundred of the Ashes series as he reached three figures on the second day of the fourth Test against England at Old Trafford on Thursday.
Smith had missed England’s dramatic one-wicket win in the third Test at Headingley after being ruled out with a concussion suffered when he was hit by a Jofra Archer bouncer during the drawn second match at Lord’s.
The 30-year-old Smith, back on top of the ICC’s Test batting rankings, resumed Thursday on his overnight score of 60 not but was dropped on 65 when Archer failed to hold a caught and bowled chance.
Having already extended his Ashes record of eight successive fifties, he hoisted his 26th Test century in 160 balls, including 11 fours, with a whipped two through square leg off Craig Overton.
This was former Australia captain Smith’s third century of an Ashes where his lowest scores is the 92 he made after being felled by Archer at Lord’s.
Smith scored 144 and 142 in Australia’s 251-run win in the series opener at Edgbaston—his first Test since completing a 12-month ban for ball-tampering. The five-match contest is currently level at 1-1, with holders Australia looking to win their first Ashes series in England for 18 years.
On Wednesday, Indian skipper Virat Kohli lost his numero uno status after being toppled by Australia’s Steve Smith in the batsman’s chart, while Jasprit Bumrah rose to third position among bowlers in the latest ICC Test Rankings released on Tuesday. Kohli slipped to No.2 spot following his first-ball duck in the Jamaica Test, while Smith returned to the top spot riding on his twin centuries in the first Ashes Test against England and 92 in the second match.
Smith was on the top spot since December 2015. It was only in August 2018, when he was serving a ban for his role in the ball-tampering scandal, that Kohli overtook him after reaching career-high rating points in the series against England.
The Australian No.4 has fought his way back up the charts in his first series back from the ban, making twin centuries in the first Test against England and 92 in the second. He now averages 63.2 in Test cricket.
(With inputs from PTI)