Smith scores ton as Australia reach 299-4 vs India

Australia's captain Steven Smith, left, listens to teammate Steve O'Keefe as they inspect the pitch during a training session ahead of their third test cricket match against India in Ranchi, India, Wednesday, March 15, 2017. (AP Photo/Aijaz Rahi)

RANCHI, India (AP) Steve Smith scored his 19th hundred as Australia reached 299-4 at stumps on day one of the third test against India here on Thursday.

At the end of play, Smith was unbeaten on 117, while Maxwell was 82 not out. The pair added 159 for the fifth wicket to give Australia the upper hand.

After tea, there was a change in approach from Smith and Maxwell as the latter played more attacking strokes.

Maxwell gained in confidence as he went past his previous highest test score of 37 and reached his maiden test half-century off 95 balls with a six off Ravindra Jadeja.

He accelerated and scored freely while Smith was more watchful. The Australian captain ultimately got to the milestone off 227 balls.

In doing so, he brought up the 150-mark of his partnership with Maxwell off 266 balls.

India took the second new ball in the 86th over, but failed to break the partnership.

In all, Smith faced 244 balls, and hit 13 fours. Meanwhile, Maxwell faced 147 deliveries, the most he has faced in an innings in his short test career thus far. He hit five fours and two sixes.

Earlier, Smith became the third-fastest Australian – behind Don Bradman and Matt Hayden – to reach 5,000 runs in test cricket.

The Australian innings revolved around him as he shared partnerships of 30 with Renshaw (44), 51 with Peter Handscomb (19) and later the mammoth stand with Maxwell.

He rescued Australia from a precarious position of 89-3 in the morning session after the visitors had won the toss and opted to bat.

India skipper Virat Kohli spent most of the middle session, and the entire final session, off the field after injuring his right shoulder as he attempted to save a boundary.

The wicket played true for most of the morning, with sporadic hints of low bounce. Spin was introduced in the seventh over as Ravichandran Ashwin (1-78) came on to bowl.

Warner was first to go, caught and bowled by Jadeja off a full toss in the 10th over.

Umesh Yadav (2-63) lured Renshaw into reaching for a wider ball and edged to Kohli at first slip.

It became a quick double blow for Australia, as Cheteshwar Pujara caught Shaun Marsh (2) off Ashwin at short leg in the 26th over in a decision that was referred to the TV officials. Umpire Ian Gould didn’t detect the edge at first, and was forced to overturn his initial not out decision after India’s successful DRS review.

The DRS has been the source of a week of rancorous debate since the last day of the second test, when Smith looked to the dressing room hoping for help in deciding whether or not to refer a decision and Kohli later claimed that the Australians had abused the system throughout the match.

Smith admitted to a ”brain fade” immediately after he was dismissed at Bangalore and apologized, avoiding any sanction. But he said Kolhi’s accusations that Australian team had repeatedly bent the DRS guidelines were ”completely wrong.” The India captain has not backed away from the comments.

Australia won the series-opener at Pune by 333 runs, and India leveled with a 75-run win in Bangalore. In both matches, the pitch has played a significant role in the outcome.