Where would Australia be without Steve Smith?


By Gaurav Joshi live from Dharamsala

It is half way through the first session on the first day at Dharamsala, Steve Smith has already crossed fifty when a spectator from the crowd echoes thoughts of one billion people in India: ”˜Aré yaar this guy [Smith] just doesn’t get out’.

The spectator is spot on. Three centuries in four Tests. India has tried almost everything to dislodge the Australian skipper but has ended up on losing the battle for the last six weeks.   In Pune, he put on a master class on a rank turner, in Ranchi, he grinded the Indians into the dust by patiently manoeuvring the balls around the field and then finally on a pitch with a bit of pace in Dharamsala, he was more expansive as he controlled the tempo of the match from the outset.

While all three innings have been unique, the initial phase of the three innings has been identical. Play straight and avoid driving off the front foot is his mantra.   But it was his approach after the first 15 balls in Dharamsala that reflected a batsman at the absolute peak of his powers.

In Pune and Ranchi, he pre-dominantly hit through the leg-side but in Dharamsala he showed his ability to score on the off-side.   Every time the Indian bowlers tried to stop him from scoring through one side of the wicket, he retaliated by hitting balls on the opposite side of the field.

Great batsman know the right time to dominate and after scoring eight off the first 15 balls, Smith put the Indians bowlers under the pump by scoring 32 from the next 29 balls with six glorious fours.   In a blink of an eye, Smith had changed the tempo of the match.

Similarly, as Australia lost wickets around him he decided to change his own rhythm.   He worked the balls into gaps and tightened his technique. Throughout the series he has tortured Ravi Ashwin with his batsmanship, so much so that at one stage it seemed like he could play the world number two spinner with a blindfold.

It is full credit to Smith that even after playing seven innings against India this series they are still absolutely clueless on how to dismiss him.   Once again in Dharamsala, he had scored 111 out of Australia 300. One has to ponder where Australia would be without him.

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