Batting legend Sachin Tendulkar lauded Steve Smith after the former Australia captain slammed his third Ashes double hundred on Thursday at the Old Trafford to steer his team to a commanding position on Day 2 of the ongoing fourth Test against England.
Smith struck the third double century of his career to continue his extraordinary form in this Ashes series and leave Australia in total control. Replying to Australia's 497/8 declared, England finished Day 2 on 23/1 and with any hope of victory virtually extinguished.
That is largely down to Smith, whose 211 - containing 24 fours and two sixes - took his total runs this series to 589 in four innings at an average of 147.25. The only reason the Ashes urn is still up for grabs is because Smith missed the third Test, won in dramatic style by England at Headingley, while he recovered from a concussion.
The teams are 1-1 with two matches left. Australia will retain the urn if the series is drawn.
In a tweet, Tendulkar praised Smith for his incredible comback.
"COMPLICATED TECHNIQUE but an ORGANIZED MINDSET is what sets Steve Smith apart. Incredible comeback!," Tendulkar tweeted.
— Sachin Tendulkar (@sachin_rt) September 5, 2019
Back in the team, Smith played so majestically in Manchester that he even received applause when he passed 100 and 200 from England supporters who have jeered him relentlessly this summer owing to his involvement in a ball-tampering scandal in South Africa last year.
This series, Smith - the world's No. 1 Test batsman - hit 144 and 142 in the first Test at Edgbaston before making 92 in the first innings of the second Test at Lord's, only getting out after being unsettled by a bouncer from Jofra Archer that struck Smith in the neck.
He is tormenting England. In his last 12 Ashes innings, he has 1,419 runs from a double century, six centuries and three half-centuries.
Smith eventually fell attempting to reverse-sweep Joe Root, England's captain and part-time spin bowler, for four. Instead, he picked out Joe Denly at backward point, 28 runs short of his highest Test knock of 239.
By then, Smith had become the first Australian since Allan Border in 1981-85 to score more than 500 runs in consecutive Ashes series and only the third player - after Don Bradman and Jack Hobbs - to post that number in three Ashes series.
(With AP Inputs)