Smith puts on masterclass before Windies fight back

Steve Smith was 200 not out when Australia declared at 4-598 in the first Test against the West Indies in Perth.

Steve Smith was 200 not out when Australia declared at 4-598 in the first Test against the West Indies in Perth. Photo: AAP

Steve Smith has put on a batting masterclass to go level with Sir Donald Bradman in Test centuries and help Australia to a dominant position before a late West Indies fightback on day two in Perth.

On a big day for Australia’s batsmen, Marnus Labuschagne hit the second double-century of his career with 204 before Smith brought up his fourth and the host declared at 4-598.

The only disappointment was for Travis Head, who missed out on a ton of his own when he was bowled on 99 just before Pat Cummins called Australia in.

Steve Smith [right] consoles Travis Head after his teammate was dismissed one run shy of his century. Photo : Getty

Debutant Tagenarine Chanderpaul wore several blows to the body and one to the testicles in his 47 not out, as Australia’s bowling looked dangerous early.

But he recovered to cut well and even hook Cummins for six, with skipper Kraigg Brathwaite alongside him on 18 and giving the tourists a platform to bat their way back into the match.

But the star of the day was Smith, who finished unbeaten on 200 and looked as if he could have made many more after a faultless knock against a lacklustre attack.

With his reconfigured technique, his 29th century brought him level with Bradman for most Test centuries and behind only Ricky Ponting (41), Steve Waugh (32) and Matthew Hayden (30) of all Australians.

“Obviously he was the greatest to play our game,” Smith said of Bradman.

“It’s nice to be on 29, and hopefully a few more to come.”

Steve Smith has had a form resurgence since changing his stance to be more side-on at the crease. Photo: Getty

More side-on in his stance and with less movement, Smith has been able to drive through the covers easier while also pulling in front of square.

He bounced to life in the middle session on Thursday in particular, with a lovely straight drive off a tiring Jason Holder the highlight.

Going after quick runs he played a superb cover drive off Jayden Seales before striking Alzarri Joseph for four.

In contrast, Labuschagne rode his luck significantly more.

After edging two consecutive balls to the boundary on Wednesday, he was dropped by wicketkeeper Joshua da Silva on Thursday when on 194 and offered another chance when he cut just over Shamrah Brooks at gully.

But around that, he clipped the ball nicely off his toes and was supreme square of the wicket on both sides.

He brought up his double-century in emphatic fashion, cover-driving Seales for four before being caught behind off Brathwaite two balls later.

When he went Head then upped the ante, hitting two glorious boundaries in his first five balls and cutting powerfully whenever offered width outside off stump.

His 99 came in 95 balls, but ended in heartache when he chopped Brathwaite onto his stumps the ball after Smith reached 200.

At that point it looked like Australia was eying off the chance to run through West Indies and have full control of the game at stumps, but Brathwaite and Chanderpaul have shown otherwise.


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