Steven Smith was “pretty angry” with himself after he got out to R Ashwin while attempting a sweep shot in the second innings of the second Test in Delhi. The 33-year-old was one of the six Australian batters to get out playing a sweep in that innings as they made things extremely easy for India after playing well on the first two days.
“I've played 95 (94) Test matches…and I don't think there's been too many times I've walked off the field and I've gone, 'what the hell am I doing?' I was pretty angry. There hasn't been too many times in my career where I've actually come off and just been bedazzled by what I've done. It wasn't my finest moment,” said Smith ahead of the third Test in Indore, starting on Wednesday (March 1).
"It wasn't the way I wanted to play, particularly when I had the field set, for all of us actually, they had the field out. We probably just rushed things a little bit and it's something we'll talk about when we meet (on Wednesday). When we've got them on the ropes, we can slow things down. We don't have to play at such a high tempo and risky tempo. Because we had them where we wanted them, we had men out and the ability to get off strike. We just rushed it."
Pat Cummins has decided to skip the third Test to be with his mother, who recently entered palliative care. In his absence, Smith will captain Australia and the right-handed batter wants his team to “slow things down” when the likes of R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja are at the top of their game. Australia lost eight wickets for 28 runs on the third morning in Delhi and allowed India to take a 2-0 lead in the four-match series.
"It's not easy. That's the way they go. They know when they are on top of you, they'll try and rush you and play on their terms. For us, when we're under pressure it's about slowing it down as much as we can; maybe making them wait a little bit, walk away and regain your thoughts rather than just coming back and back. Certain things like that. And it will be different for everyone, the way they handle those moments. Think it's (about) finding that in our game and hopefully that applies a bit more pressure on them."
Smith feels it’s extremely difficult to start your innings in India, especially when Ashwin, Jadeja and Axar Patel are operating at their best. On top of that, these three spinners are also very valuable with the bat. "I think starting your innings is as tough as anywhere in the world here in India," Smith said.
"We know if you get in, you've got to make it count. There'll be odd times when you get a very good ball and get dismissed. I don't like the term, 'have one with your name on it' so much, you've got to try and take that out of your mind.
"I got 30 in the first Test, Marnus (Labuschagne) has got a few starts, guys haven't been able to go on and make a big total and two guys together getting that one partnership can make a difference. I think Pete (Handscomb) has been outstanding in both first innings and he's been left stranded. If he had someone to bat with, and we make the most of those first innings a little bit more as well, things could certainly be different."
This is the third time Smith will be leading Australia since Cummins was appointed as captain. For most of the players, captaincy comes in as a burden, but not for smith. In Tests, he has captained Australia in 34 Tests and averages 67.3 after scoring 3793 runs. Adding more, he has an overall average of 81.1 against India as a skipper.
"It normally brings the best out of me. I'm excited about leading this week in Pat's absence. I know these conditions well. It's kind of like my second home playing over here, I've played a lot in India, I understand the intricacies of the game and what the wickets are likely to do. I'm looking forward to it."