Steve Smith
Australia captain Steve Smith returns to the pavilion unbeaten on 141 at the Gabba on Saturday (November 25) in the opening Ashes Test against England.Reuters

Australian captain Steve Smith had to battle hard in the opening Ashes Test against England to bring up his 21st century in the five-day format at the Gabba in Brisbane on Saturday (November 25). It was a milestone hundred for the right-hander as he surpassed Indian batting legend Sachin Tendulkar.

In reply to England's first innings total of 302, the hosts were in danger of falling behind as they were reduced to 209/7 on the third day today. However, Smith led from the front to ensure that they overhauled the visitors' tally.

Smith, in the company of the tail-enders, took Australia to first innings lead. Their innings folded at 328 in 130.3 overs. The skipper remained unbeaten on 141.

The 28-year-old Smith is the third quickest to 21 Test centuries. The leader of the pack is the legendary batsman Sir Don Bradman while India's Sunil Gavaskar is second.

Bradman needed 56 visits to the crease to reach 21 Test hundreds while Gavaskar took 98 innings. Smith achieved the milestone in his 105th innings. Previously, Tendulkar was at third position with 110 innings needed to reach the mark.

Rated as one of the best batsmen in the modern era, Smith did not have it easy today. He took 261 balls to reach the three-figure mark. He walked out of the ground to a standing ovation from a near full house at the Gabba. He batted for 512 minutes, faced 326 balls and hit 14 fours.

Right-handed Smith, who made his Test debut in 2010 against Pakistan at Lord's, is playing in his 57th five-day match. He averages over 61. He has equal number of hundreds and fifties (21 each) in the longer format of the game.

Quickest to 21 Test centuries (Top five)

Don Bradman (Australia) - 56 innings

Sunil Gavaskar (India) - 98

Steve Smith (Australia) - 105

Sachin Tendulkar (India) - 110

Mohammed Yousuf (Pakistan) - 120