Australia’s captain Steve Smith continued to be India's nemesis by scoring a superb century as Australia recovered from early setbacks to reach a comfortable 299 for 4 on day one of the third Test at Ranchi on Thursday.
In the eye of a storm for his 'brain fade' while deciding to take a review during the second Test, Smith (117 batting) showed steely resolve on route his 19th Test hundred. None among the Indian bowling quartet could trouble him during the 244 balls that he faced.
Comeback-man Glenn Maxwell (82 batting) also played his role to perfection with a solid effort, adding 159 runs in 47.4 overs for the fifth wicket.
Maxwell's proficiency against spin also helped Smith to play his own game. Incidentally, Maxwell scored his first fifty in Test cricket in this match.
If it wasn't enough that the bowlers had a hard day, Indian captain Virat Kohli suffered a shoulder injury while fielding and was out of action for more than one session. In Kohli's absence, stand-in captain Ajinkya Rahane's leadership lacked imagination.
Australia would certainly be looking at a total in excess of 500 with an aim to bat India out of the match in the first innings itself.
This was after Australia were precariously placed at 140 for 4 with Umesh Yadav (2/63 in 19 overs) providing a fantastic exhibition of reverse swing bowling.
The day belonged to Smith, who has now scored six Test hundreds against India in his last seven appearances. The pitch was low and slow to begin with and there wasn't much turn on offer for the Indian spin twins on the first day of the match.
With no help from the track, Ravichandran Ashwin (1/78 in 23 overs) and Ravindra Jadeja (1/80 in 30 overs) had nothing special in their armoury to trouble the Australian skipper, who hit 13 boundaries in his innings.
For the record, the Australian captain also completed 5,000 runs in Test cricket. He is the third fastest batsman in 53 Tests to get to the landmark after Sir Don Bradman had reached the milestone in his 36th Test and Sunil Gavaskar took 52 matches to score 5,000 Test runs.
Smith came in at a time when Umesh was bowling quite well. He saw off that spell and then played all the Indian bowlers with ease.
He didn't show any hurried approach yet got the runs at a fair pace. With Maxwell hitting his share of sixes – two off Jadeja apart from five fours, Smith found it easier to disturb Jadeja's length.
With no rough created on either side of the wicket, Jadeja's deliveries lacked any bite whatsoever.
Ashwin got a few past the bat but the slowness of the wicket helped the batsmen adjust their footwork.
There was some comic relief when Saha chased the ball right out of Smith's legs as in the wrestle both fell down On 97, Smith tried to jab the ball into the vacant leg side, took an outside edge as it got stuck between his legs.
A determined Saha however tried to grab it from between his legs and in the process the duo provided a hilarious moment. Even umpire Ian Gould could not resist a hearty laugh.
Earlier, Smith won a fine toss as their openers Matt Renshaw and David Warner played with a positive intent and cruised to 50 for no loss in 9.3 overs.
But after spin was introduced at both ends in the 10th over, Ravindra Jadeja (1/49) struck in his first over with David Warner (19) offering a simple return catch to the left-arm spinner.
Renshaw's first 24 runs came only in boundaries as once he cleared a fielder the ball would race past the rope.
At the other end, Warner took his time and hit his first boundary after 22 balls with an elegant cover drive off Yadav.
With Warner looking to break free, Kohli employed spin attack at both ends and Jadeja was welcomed by the Aussie vice-captain with another crunching drive.
The next ball, a juicy full-toss and Warner offered Jadeja a return catch for the first breakthrough for India.
In the middle of a fine run, 20-year-old Renshaw looked to complete a third half-century in as many Tests, before falling short by six runs.
Yadav produced the breakthrough before lunch in his second spell when Renshaw guided to Kohli at first slip for a soft dismissal.
Ashwin too opened his account after India brilliantly used the DRS to dismiss Shaun Marsh (2) as India struck twice in 2.4 overs before lunch.
In the second session, Peter Handscomb (19) was trapped LBW by Umesh Yadav after he added 51 runs with his captain.
(With inputs from PTI)