Smith open to verbal battle against India

Smith has given the green light for sledging

Image courtesy of: Zimbio

Australia captain Steve Smith has insisted that he won’t have any objections if his team-mates decide to engage in a war of words with India in their upcoming four-Test series.

“I think each of our individuals play the way that they play,” Smith said in Mumbai. “If they want to get into a battle verbally, if that gets the best out of them, then go for it. It’s all about us making sure as individuals we are in the right mindset to go out there and succeed. In the end it’s about us playing on skill and making sure that our skills are in the best place for us to succeed.”

Australia are considered to be the underdogs heading into the series in the subcontinent as they have only won in India once in the last 48 years and are currently on a nine-game losing streak in Asia.

Furthermore, the Baggy Greens’ form in the longest format can be described as turbulent as of late as they were whitewashed 3-0 by Sri Lanka in July-August last year before suffering a 2-1 defeat on home soil against South Africa in November.

But, they rebounded in the three-Test series against Pakistan in December 2016 to January 2017 as they claimed a 3-0 win.

However, given the way they struggled with the spin-friendly conditions in Sri Lanka, Smith acknowledged that his side will be in for a tough challenge in India.

“You probably learn more from losing games than you do from winning, so I guess the last year has been a bit of a rollercoaster ride in regards to results,” Smith said. “I think this team has come a long way. We are learning a lot, we are willing to put in the hard work to try and get the best out of ourselves and the best out of the team. I am happy with where everything is at the moment.

“Obviously this is going to be a very difficult tour and I am excited by that challenge. All of the guys are really excited about what’s to come in the next six weeks. It’s a great challenge to play here in India. We know that if we can pull something off and win a series here, we will look back in 10-20 years and it will be some of the best times of our lives.”

Smith also admitted that he has to set the tone as captain, whether it be to go on the defensive or pile the pressure on India. With that in mind, the 27-year-old added that it is imperative the batsmen and bowlers do the same as well.

Mitchell Starc will play an instrumental role with the ball as he took 24 wickets in Sri Lanka at an average of 15.16

Image courtesy of: Zimbio

“For me, it is about understanding the different times of the games,” Smith said. “I think there are times in the game when you can attack a lot more and times when you need to defend a little bit and just let the game sort of take its course for a little while and try to keep things quite tight. When you get a sniff really go for it.

“I think that’s an important aspect of the captaincy here in India. It is about knowing the right periods and timing the periods right – when to sort of take the foot off the pedal and to really go hard as well. I think I learnt a little about that in Sri Lanka. You don’t want people to change their natural games. It is always important to be positive and look to score. I think the moment you just start defending then you are probably in trouble.

“You have to have that mindset to look to score, but ultimately your defence is what helps you out when you are in trouble. It is going to be important that our defences are strong against not only the spin bowlers of India, but they have also got some good fast bowlers as well that present a good seam, can swing the new ball and very good reverse as well. Defence is going to be incredibly important for us in this series with the bat.”

Getting 20 wickets in India will be no easy feat as India boast a strong batting line-up that can stay at the crease for days on end. Nonetheless, Smith is backing his bowlers to get the job done.

“I am confident, I think we have got a good mix of bowlers,” Smith said. “Guys that are working hard and learning to adapt to the way you need to bowl in these conditions. I think it is totally different to back home in Australia where you need to get up and over the ball and do guys in the air rather than off the wicket.

“It’s important here to make sure you are bowling consistent areas and letting the wicket do the work and getting the natural variation out of the wickets. Guys have worked hard on that and I think we are in for a big series. Hopefully the guys can build enough pressure and get the ball in the right areas enough and hopefully we get the right rewards.

“I think reverse-swing is going to be incredibly important in this series as well. Our two big quicks – Josh Hazlewood and Mitchell Starc – are very good reverse-swing bowlers. They relish the challenge of playing against the best players in the world, and India have some incredibly good batters. So they are excited by the challenges of playing here as well.”

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