Steve Smith’s ominously fluent hundred and a captain’s century from Aaron Finch have helped Australia post an imposing 6-374 in their opening ODI against India.
Smith (105), Finch (114), David Warner (69) and Glenn Maxwell (45) dismantled and demoralised the visiting attack at the SCG, where some costly fielding errors ensured Virat Kohli endured a miserable opening 50 overs of the tour.
Smith, Finch and Maxwell all struggled during the recent Indian Premier League season.
Finch was dropped by Royal Challengers Bangalore at one stage of the Twenty20 tournament, while Maxwell failed to clear the rope once in any of his 13 games for Kings XI Punjab.
But the star trio clearly put the preceding fortnight, spent predominantly in their respective hotel rooms as part of Australia’s quarantine rules regarding returned travellers, to good use.
It is undoubtedly Smith’s freestyling start to the summer – which would have ended on 13 if not for the batsman’s successful review and could easily have ended on 38 if not for Shikhar Dhawan’s schoolboy error on the boundary – that will concern Kohli most.
Smith’s previous home summer was below his lofty standards, while he was concussed during a recent tour of England tand hen never really got going while in the UAE for the IPL.
But the 31-year-old, who gleefully declared earlier this week he had “found” his hands, generally produces his best in big series.
Smith set the bar high on Friday, racing to 50 in 36 deliveries then reaching three figures in just 62 balls.
Maxwell and James Faulkner are the only Australians to have registered an ODI ton in more rapid fashion.
The highest successful one-day chase at the SCG is 334, underlining the enormity of India’s target.
Finch and Warner laid the perfect platform for a monster total with their 156-run opening partnership, which ended when Kohli successfully reviewed a caught-behind shout in the 28th over.
Finch and Smith added 108 runs for the second wicket, both celebrating emotive centuries on the sixth anniversary of the death of good mate Phillip Hughes.
Smith, interviewed by broadcasters after 40 overs with Australia sitting pretty at 2-264, made it clear he was aiming for a total “somewhere around 370”.
Smith and Maxwell, who were both encouraged and reprieved by India’s sloppiness in the field, proceeded to keep the scoreboard ticking over in entertaining and emphatic fashion.
Maxwell’s 19-ball cameo was audacious and electrifying; the highlight being a reverse-swept six off spinner Yuzvendra Chahal that brought a grin to the batsman’s face.
The run-rate briefly stalled when the Victorian star picked out Ravindra Jadeja in the deep during the 45th over but Smith finished with a bang.