Steve Smith took nearly 18 months to get past Virat Kohli’s Test century tally as the Australia maestro finished Day 1 of the first Test vs Sri Lanka at 109 runs. The 33-year-old, who last scored a 100 in 2021, brought up ton No 28 as his side was 298/5 at stumps. 

Kohli, who has not reached the three-figure mark since November 2019, has 27 Test tons against his name. Smith and former England captain Joe Root have 28. 

In the 84th over, Smith smashed Rajitha through extra cover for a boundary to bring up a milestone hundred. His teammates in the dressing room cheered as the batter took off his helmet to greet the crowd at the Galle International Stadium, Galle. Alex Carey, who was batting at the other end, gave the former Australia skipper a warm hug. 

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Smith was unbeaten at 109 off 212 balls with the help of 14 boundaries before play was called off for the day. The 33-year-old, who has played most of his cricket on the bouncy Australian tracks, now has five hundreds and eight fifties in16 Test matches in Asia. His average in the format reached 60 with 8100 runs.

Smith became the third fastest player after Don Bradman (72 innings) and Sachin Tendulkar (144 innings) to reach 28 Test hundreds. He achieved the feat in 153 innings. 

Most centuries by active Test players:

Steve Smith – 28* (87 matches)

Joe Root – 28 (121 matches)

Virat Kohli – 27 (102 matches)

Kane Williamson – 24 (88 matches)

David Warner – 24 (96 matches)

Steve Smith’s protege, Marnus Labuschagne, meanwhile made 104 runs in 156 deliveries before he was stumped off Prabath Jayasuriya’s ball. Darren Lehmann in 2004 had been the last Australian batsman to score a hundred at the spinner friendly turning tracks in Galle International Stadium.

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Labuschagne, who was given a life on 28 when Niroshan Dickwella missed a stumping chance off Ramesh Mendis, posted his seventh test hundred and the first overseas. 

The pair added 134 runs for the third wicket in 223 deliveries as Australia consolidated its position. 

Sri Lanka was forced to make four changes to the team that lost the first test by 10 wickets after four players tested positive for COVID-19 ahead of the game. Dhananjaya de Silva, Jeffrey Vandersay, Asitha Fernando and Praveen Jayawickrama were all isolated after they tested positive.

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The hosts handed test debuts to Kamindu Mendis, Maheesh Theekshana and Jayasuriya while Kasun Rajitha returned to the side after missing the first test. Australia went with an unchanged side.

Theekshana, who troubled the Australians during the limited overs series, failed to pick up a wicket but he kept one end tight, something that Sri Lanka lacked in the first test. His 15 overs cost just 45 runs.