Star Australian cricketer Steve Smith marked his return to international cricket in imperious fashion with 26th hundred of his carrer on Thursday as Australia put themselves in a dominant position in the fourth Ashes Test. Smith went past Indian cricket great Sachin Tendulkar to become the second fastest cricketer to hit 26 centuries in terms of innings. Smith took 121 innings to reach the milestone while Tendulkar took 136 innings. The list is topped by Australian great Don Bradman, who hit the same number of centuries in just 69 innings.
Smith was 173 not out in Australia's commanding 369-5 at tea on the second day of the match against England at Old Trafford. It was his highest score of a series during which Smith's lowest total in four innings is 92.
This was also the eighth time he had passed 150 in a Test and the third instance against England, although he was reprieved twice on Thursday. Smith and Tim Paine (58 not out), his successor as Australia captain, have now put on an unbeaten 145 for the sixth wicket, with the tourists going through the second session without losing a wicket.
Despite England's dramatic one-wicket win in the third Test at Headingley in Smith's absence to square the five-match series at 1-1, the top-order problems that saw them dismissed for just 67 in the first innings in Leeds remain intact. And with Australia left-arm fast bowler Mitchell Starc looking to make a mark in his first Test of the series, England faced a tough task just to get back on level terms in Manchester.
Fastest to 26 Test tons in terms of total innings played:
69: Don Bradman (Aus)
121: Steve Smith (AUS)
136: Sachin Tendulkar (IND)
144: Sunil Gavaskar (IND)
145: Matthew Hayden (AUS)
(With inputs from PTI)