Australia’s batting mainstay Steve Smith has no time to think about how India might plot revenge in the second Test in Melbourne this weekend but he does have a word of advice for the visitors jolted by the first game’s battering: move on.
The Australian troika of Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood produced one of the finest fast bowling performances in recent times to dismiss India for their lowest Test score of 36 in the opening day-night Test in Adelaide.
Australia won by eight wickets and the series will now move to Melbourne for the Boxing Day Test starting December 26.
“Look, the other day we just saw some pretty incredible fast bowling. It is probably the best I’ve seen our bowlers bowl collectively for about five years I think,” Smith said in a virtual media conference.
“The lengths they were hitting were just impeccable. Sometimes that happens, you get a good ball and you nick it...You got to let it go and move on and try and keep yourself in a positive mindset,” the 31-year-old added.
Asked what he feels would be the Indian mindset after such a huge defeat, he said: “Again every individual is different, the way they take their dismissals, how they think about the game after it’s finished. It’s important to keep moving forward, look at yourself individually, what you could have done better.”
Star pacer Mohammed Shami’s reported fractured wrist has dealt a double blow to India as talismanic skipper Virat Kohli will not be playing in the last three Tests as well. But Smith is not focussing on India’s troubles.
“Not thinking too much about India and how they’re going to come back. For us, it’s just about doing the things we need to do well. It’s about just executing what we need to do out in the middle and doing it to the best of our ability,” Smith said.
On Shami’s absence, Smith said India still have some quality bowlers in Navdeep Saini and Mohammed Siraj.
“I think they’re two quality bowlers who can have some good Test careers. Obviously they are missing Ishant (Sharma) as well, which is a big loss for them in terms of experience.”
Smith was out for one, deceived by a beautiful Ashwin Ravichandran delivery, in the opening Test and asserted that he has learnt his lessons.
“The spinners that do well here generally those who get over the top of the ball and beat you with more bounce or in the air as opposed to ones that come around the ball.
“It’s about finding a way to adapt and that’s what the best players do around the world. I’ll hopefully learn something from that, move forward and play a little bit better in the next game,” he said.
Smith, who is a terrific player of spin usually, added that it was a case of falling for the straight one.
“I just nicked one that didn’t spin; unfortunately that happens sometimes. I thought it was pretty well bowled, to be honest. The two balls prior spun a bit and got a bit grip of the wicket and the next one was kind of side-spin which skidded off. I didn’t play as well as I would have liked,” Smith said according to ANI.
“Playing in Australia and playing in India is a bit different; the ball doesn’t spin as much as it spins in India. He is a good bowler, he has played a lot of cricket now. He is a world-class performer. I know he got the better of me the other day; hopefully, I will learn something and move forward and play him a little bit better in the next game,” Smith added.
On the next match, the star batsman said he gets shivers down the spine from the thrill of batting in a Boxing Day Test. Since his first Boxing Day Test appearance in the Ashes 2010-’11, the talismanic batsman has smashed four centuries – three of them unbeaten – and three fifties in seven such games.
“I always remember watching the Boxing Day Tests at home and with the family after Christmas. It’s sort of like a dream-come-true moment in a way. As a kid, I always wanted to play in a Boxing Day Test match,” Smith said.
“There’s nothing like the thrill and you get the shivers down your spine, and the hairs on the back of your neck rise up when you walk out to bat on Boxing Day with the crowd yelling,” added Smith.
“I like batting at the MCG on those sort of big occasions. I’d like to try and make the most of them.”
Steve Smith Test career
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Sydney Covid scare
Smith said he would love Sydney to host the new year Test against India as planned, despite the city currently battling a coronavirus outbreak.
“Personally I’d love Sydney to happen, I love playing at the SCG (Sydney Cricket Ground), it’s my home ground.
“I think everyone’s preference here would be to play in Sydney, but we will always be guided by experts,” Smith said.
Australia’s largest city has been virtually sealed off from the largely virus-free rest of the country after a cluster of coronavirus cases were uncovered, raising serious doubts about the third Test which is scheduled to start on January 7.
If the Sydney clash goes ahead, the players could have problems travelling to Brisbane for the final Test a week later after Queensland effectively closed its border to Sydney.
The second Test starts in Melbourne on Boxing Day and back-to-back Tests there could be an option.
Otherwise, they could return to Adelaide, where Australia won the opening Test by eight wickets on Saturday, or host two in a row in Brisbane.
Australia are currently leading the Test series 1-0, after an Indian second-innings batting collapse in Adelaide.
(With PTI and AFP inputs)