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Steve Smith – A thorn in the flesh of the Indians

Smith has scored a lot of runs against India across formats.

Steve Smith of Australia News
Steve Smith of Australia. (Photo by Paul Kane/Getty Images)

Many are oblivious to the fact that Steve Smith, given his reputation as an international batsman across formats, wasn’t a part of either of the limited overs squad when Australia last played a white-ball series in India in 2013. Such has been his rapid rise in world cricket in the last three years that he has become indispensable for the Australian team in every format.

And he favors the Indian bowling attack. It was the Australian summer of 2014, in which Steven Smith announced himself on the world stage by scoring 4 Test hundreds against the visiting Indians. Since then, he has gone from strength to strength to evolve further as a top order batsman. But his liking of the Indian bowling attack hasn’t changed.

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Smith has his own technique

Smith has a technique of his own. He is not an orthodox batsman whom budding cricketers would want to emulate. But he knows how to post big scores, game after game; he knows how to find the gaps and score runs quickly. Looking ugly whilst doing it doesn’t bother him at all. The 28-year old has an exaggerated movement at the popping crease which most bowlers fall prey to. Before the bowler delivers the ball, Smith walks across his stumps which make him a candidate for leg-before wicket dismissals but because he is so strong of his pads, and his head doesn’t fall, he is able to make contact 98 times out of 100. He doesn’t play the cut shot for he doesn’t have to. Because of his movement towards the off stump, he is already very close to the ball bowled short and wide at him. If he opts to play the cut, a horizontal bat shot, he will be cramped for room, so instead, he just guides the ball with a vertical bat behind point which fetches him a lot of runs.

Over the years, the right-hander has also improved on his driving technique so when bowlers bowl full at him, he easily drives the ball in the gaps either side of the wicket. Smith’s ability to find gaps is exceptional. He knows exactly where the fielders are stationed and milks the ball in the gaps. Like his former skipper Michael Clarke, Smith is extremely efficient against the spinners and doesn’t mind using his feet against them. It is his quality against the tweakers which helped him to take Australia to a memorable win at Pune when he scored a brilliant hundred in the second essay.

Limited ODI experience in India not a problem for Smith

The Australian skipper has played just a solitary ODI against India in their own backyard. He didn’t get a chance to bat in the game which means that one of the best batsmen in the world has not scored a single run in India against India in ODIs. He was a part of the 2011 World Cup and took part in four games during the tournament held in India, scoring just 28 runs from two innings. His overall record against India is impeccable – 467 runs in 7 innings at 66.71 which include 2 centuries. The No. 3 batsman’s Test record against India is similarly outstanding – 1429 runs in 10 games at 84.05. As many as 7 of his Test hundreds out of 20 have come against India which is a high 35%. He does love playing against India.

Smith won’t have to get acclimatized to Indian conditions as he has already played a lot of cricket in this part of the world. He has played a fair bit in the IPL with decent success and was at his best during the acrimonious Test series in India earlier in the year during which he notched up 3 hundreds. The Australian team arrived in India on the back of a fiercely contested Test series in Bangladesh hence Smith can’t be better prepared to play cricket in India than this.

The Indian bowlers will be wary of Smith, around whom the Australian batting revolves. It was only in 2014 when his ODI career was resurrected as Australia got him to bat at No. 3. Since then, he has amassed 2807 runs at 51.98 from 62 games. His ODI stocks are rising rapidly after each game. A successful stint in India with the bat will go a long way in establishing him as one of the best going around in ODI cricket as well.

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