11 Dec 2014

Smith shines on gloomy day at Adelaide Oval

6:37 am on 11 December 2014

Michael Clarke's gritty 128 after pain-killing injections in his injured back may have lit up a rain-soaked Adelaide Oval on Wednesday, but it was his baby-faced batting partner Steven Smith who offered hope of a brighter future.

Australia's Michael Clarke and Steven Smith.

Australia's Michael Clarke and Steven Smith. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Smith's unbeaten 162 was almost overshadowed by Clarke's courage on day two of the first test against India, but it provided another endorsement of the 25-year-old's leadership credentials in case the skipper's body finally gives out.

Having battled on the fringes for three years after his 2010 test debut against Pakistan at Lord's, Smith's improvement and maturity as a batsman over the past year has been little short of staggering.

A key component in Australia's brutal 5-0 whitewash of England in the last home summer, he has continued to pile on the runs, scoring four test centuries in the last 12 months.

He came three runs short of a fifth ton in the year against Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates but erased that disappointment by flaying South Africa's world class attack during the one-day series win last month.

"I probably wasn't quite as patient as I am now," Smith told reporters after stumps, having pushed Australia to 517 for 7 at the end of day three.

"I tried to play too many shots early on and that got me in trouble.

"I know if I do that (be patient) then I'll be able to make big runs and today's a good example of that."

"Every hundred is nice and hopefully I've got a few more this summer."

Like Clarke and opening batsman David Warner, Smith was a former team mate of Phillip Hughes at New South Wales and was fielding when the batsman was struck down during a domestic match two weeks ago.

The three men who might be the most affected by the tragedy have now all made brilliant tons at Adelaide.

Upon raising his century, Smith walked over to the 408 painted in the Adelaide Oval turf in recognition of Hughes, the country's 408th test player.

He waved his bat over the number and like Warner on Tuesday, peered up at the sky as many of the 15,000 at the ground stood to applaud.

"We had that long (rain) break when I was on 98 and I thought that if I got the two more runs, it would be nice to go over there and stick my bat in the air and say thanks to Hughesy for being with me all the way," he said.

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs

We have regular online commentary of local and international sport.