Cricketing fraternity applauded former Australia captain Steven Smith, who became the second-fastest batsman to hit 24 Test centuries during Day 1 of the first Ashes 2019 Test against England in Birmingham on Thursday. But fans took the opportunity to compare Smith with Virat Kohli, with some even asking if the Indian captain can be the Steve Smith of India when it matters. (DAY 1 HIGHLIGHTS | SCORECARD)
Kohli and Smith, along with Joe Root of England and Kane Williamson of New Zealand are considered the Big Four batsmen in the world cricket, and once one of them score a big score, fans start comparing their favourite against another, unjustifiably most of the time though. But in the case of Kohli and Smith, thanks to their history, fans find extra spice and waste no time in announcing the verdict.
Smith, 30, who was subjected to 'sandpaper' chants from a partisan Edgbaston crowd, relished the opportunity to quickly put his Test lay-off behind him with one of his best centuries in the longest format of the game against their traditional rivals.
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Opting to bat first, Australia were rocking on Day 1 of the Ashes opener either side of Smith's arrival at number four. Reduced to 122-8 with Stuart Broad dominating for England with a five-wicket haul, Smith shepherded the Aussie tail-enders with two brilliant stands of 88 and 74 runs with Peter Siddle and Nathan Lyon for the last two wickets respectively.
Smith, playing for the first time since his 12-month ban for his role in the ball-tampering scandal, kept plugging away and the result was a magnificent knock of 144 off 219 balls, dragging Australia back to 284 all out.
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In the process, he surpassed the likes of Kohli, Sachin Tendulkar and Sunil Gavaskar to score 24 Test centuries in the fewest number of innings. This was Smith's 118th Test innings -- second fastest after Donald Bradman (66 innings).
And soon fans, pundits and former players took to social media platforms to hail the right-handed batsman's knock.
Former India opener Virender Sehwag took to Twitter and wrote, "What a 100 for Steve Smith. Under difficult conditions, arguably one of the best batsman in Test Cricket. #Ashes."
What a 100 for Steve Smith. Under difficult conditions, arguably one of the best batsman in Test Cricket. #Ashes— Virender Sehwag (@virendersehwag) 1 August 2019
Former English cricketer Michael Vaughan also praised Smith's hundred.
"One of the all-time Outstanding Test Innings ... To do that in his 1st Innings back in Test Cricket is remarkable ... Sometimes you have to admire greatness ... @stevesmith49 is some player ... #Ashes," Vaughan tweeted.
One of the all time Outstanding Test Innings ... To do that in his 1st Innings back in Test Cricket is remarkable ... Sometimes you have to admire greatness ... @stevesmith49 is some player ... #Ashes— Michael Vaughan (@MichaelVaughan) 1 August 2019
"100 for Steve Smith!What a knock! It's his 24th Test ton - is it his finest?#Ashes," ICC wrote on Twitter.
Ex-Indian cricketer Aakash Chopra wrote, "Steve Smith is being Smith. The old Fighting-it-Out-Smith. How much did Australia miss him in Tests!!! But leave that aside for a moment....how brilliant Siddle has been?? Superb fightback. #TheAshes."
Steve Smith is being Smith. The old Fighting-it-Out-Smith. How much did Australia miss him in Tests!!! But leave that aside for a moment....how brilliant Siddle has been?? Superb fightback. #TheAshes— Aakash Chopra (@cricketaakash) 1 August 2019
"Really was an extraordinary inning from Steve Smith in his comeback Test, an innings full of guts, intensity, and tenacity. From 122/8, he has taken Australia to 284. #Ashes," another former cricketer VVS Laxman wrote.
Really was an extraordinary innings from Steve Smith in his comeback test, an innings full of guts , intensity and tenacity .— VVS Laxman (@VVSLaxman281) 1 August 2019
From 122/8 , he has taken Australia to 284. #Ashes pic.twitter.com/jwapJu5FLi
Here are some fan reactions:
Can virat Kohli be the Steve Smith of India when it matters the most? #Ashes— Charchit Jain (@chichijain) 1 August 2019
Big fan of Virat Kohli, but have to say Steve Smith is better test batsman than Kohli. This century was class. Crowd booing at Smith continuously but he silenced everyone by his bat.#ENGvAUS #TheAshes— Prashant Ranjan (@prashant_minku) 1 August 2019
Edgbaston 2018— Merin Kumar ™ (@merin_kumar) 1 August 2019
No.4 batsman Virat scored century with help of 10th wkt partnership.
217/9 to 274
Virat Kohli 149
No.4 batsman Smith scored century with help of 10th wkt partnership.
210/9 to 284
Steven Smith 144
Steve Smith doing exactly the same thing that kohli did exactly one year back at very same venue.. batting with tails, i love it and enjoyed the most when kohli did it ðÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂðÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂ#ashes2019 #AusvsEng pic.twitter.com/Ui39meOvlh— Mahi (@i_StanKohli18) 1 August 2019
India will take on the West Indies in a two-match Test series later in the month. And Kohli, who has 25 Test hundreds from 131 innings, will be eager to prove his worth against, especially after a poor World Cup.