Australian batter Steve Smith on Thursday said his bowlers reaped the benefits of relentlessly targeting the off stump on a pitch with variable bounce in the World Test Championship final against India. (More Cricket News)
India found themselves in big trouble at 151 for five on day two, trailing Australia by another 318 runs at the Oval.
Shubman Gill and Cheteshwar Pujara offered no shot to balls that crashed into the stumps while Virat Kohli got an unplayable delivery from Mitchell Starc.
Australian pacers bowled better lengths and got more purchase out of the wicket than their Indian counterparts.
"The length at off stump I think is important. We've obviously seen a bit of variable bounce and some seam movement. So if we're challenging the top of the stumps as much as possible, I think that's the quickest way home. You can certainly get the outside edge from there if it seams away and bounces or takes off, which a couple have. And then pads and stumps are in play with the ones that shoot low or seam back. So it's about as simple as we need to keep it, I think," Smith said.
Australia's batting mainstay got to his 31st hundred with a couple of fours off half volleys from Mohammed Siraj in the first over of the day. It was his third hundred at The Oval where he averages close to 100.
"Yeah, I think when I first started this morning I couldn't ask for anything more than two half volleys on my pad to get me going. That was nice to get over that milestone. But, no, I was proud of the way I played. I thought I applied myself nicely. Left well yesterday morning. Hit the balls in my area and yeah it was pretty solid in defense. So yeah, felt good out there," he said.
"Obviously a really good partnership with Trav who batted beautifully in that middle session yesterday. I thought the way he took the game on, put the pressure back on their bowlers, got them off their lengths, which I think helped me at the other end as well. Yeah, set us up for a nice innings."
Talking about his love for the ground, he added: "I think in terms of English wickets it's probably as close to Australia as you get I suppose.
"The pace and bounce that you can get in the surface and if you get yourself in the outfield is obviously the square goes the whole way across so you get good value for your shots. So, yeah, I've enjoyed playing here and it was nice to score a few out here again."