Smith 'feeds off' criticism warns Paine ahead of Gabba showdown

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14 Jan 2021 | 04:50 AM
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Smith 'feeds off' criticism warns Paine ahead of Gabba showdown

Smith has faced accusations he had been trying to cheat by scuffing up batsman Rishabh Pant's guard at the crease during the tense drawn third Test at Sydney, which left the series locked at 1-1

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Skipper Tim Paine warned that Steve Smith "feeds off" criticism and was fired up for the high-stakes fourth Test against India, which Australia will start without injured opener Will Pucovski.

Smith has faced accusations he had been trying to cheat by scuffing up batsman Rishabh Pant's guard at the crease during the tense drawn third Test at Sydney, which left the series locked at 1-1.

He strongly denied it and said he was shocked by the reaction, claiming he was simply shadow batting.

Paine, himself slammed for an ugly sledging incident during the match, said his teammate was mentally strong and determined to build on his man-of-the-match performance in Sydney, where he made 131 and 81.

"Steve is in a good frame of mind," Paine said ahead of the clash at the Gabba starting Friday, a ground where Australia are unbeaten since 1988.

"I think we've seen through what he's been through in the last three years... he's mentally very strong, very tough. He knows sometimes he's going to be criticised and he's handled that supremely well.

"If anything, I think he feeds off it. His statistics speak for themselves and we'll see the best of Steve Smith again this week."

Australia will go into the series-deciding clash without Pucovski, who dislocated his shoulder while fielding in Sydney, where he made an impressive first innings' 62 on debut.

It was another cruel setback for the highly-rated 22-year-old, who missed the first two Tests with concussion. 

Marcus Harris, who has played nine Tests, but not since Australia retained the Ashes in England last year, will open instead alongside David Warner.

"He'll come in and open the batting and looking forward to seeing what he can do," said Paine. "He's a no fuss, very good player."

Barring late mishaps, it will likely be the only change to the team that played the third Test.

Earlier this week, wicketkeeper Paine apologised for his own behaviour in Sydney, where he launched a verbal tirade at India's Ravi Ashwin, was fined for dissent and dropped three catches on the final day as Australia failed to bowl India out.

"I let it get under the skin, no doubt about that, I've admitted that, so for me it's about rising above it and concentrating on what I'm doing and concentrating on leading my team," he said.

"We've spoken a lot this game about controlling what we can control and focusing more inwardly on ourselves. If we do that, then we'll be in a good position."

Gavaskar is entitled to his opinion but it doesn't affect me one iota: Paine

Paine wouldn't engage in a war of words with Sunil Gavaskar, saying the legendary Indian's critical assessment of his leadership doesn't bother him one bit.

On the last day of the Sydney Test, Paine tried to unsettle Ashwin by sledging the Indian spinner and Gavaskar promptly termed it "unbefitting of national team captain" whose days as the man in charge seemed to be "numbered".

Asked if he had heard about Gavaskar's comments of him, Paine said: "I had, but I am not going to go into it and get my back and forth with Sunny Gavaskar, I think I am not going to win that."

Paine in a curt manner put forth that Gavaskar doesn't bother him.

"He is entitled to his opinion. It doesn't affect us one iota. It is adding to the Test match, which is great. So Sunny can keep saying what he wants to say at the end of the day, it is absolutely nothing to do with it."

Paine has already publicly apologised for crossing the line and said that from now on, he would like to play the way he knows and that's doing his job with a smile on the his face.

"Throughout my career, I have done a pretty good job of being relaxed 99 percent of the times. That's when I have played my best cricket. Other day, I thought I got caught up in the moment.

"What I have been good at it is able to step back and have a look around the crowd and realise you are captaining your country in a Test match, something I have always dreamt of. Obviously, I am going to compete very hard and I am going to win as much as anyone and I would like to competitive," said the 36-year-old, whose own place in the team will be under scanner if they don't win the series.

Asked if he would continue the banter after what happened in Sydney?

"I will be myself. Don't know how many Tests I have played but I have gone about in a pretty consistent fashion. Other day, it was a blip on the radar," he had no shame in admitting.

Paine said that he wouldn't still mind a light-hearted banter.

"I have copped that on the chin and look to come out and play competitive cricket, as I always do. There is a bit of banter that I always do but be aware of the stump mic and be a bit more respectful of the umpires, officials and players," the skipper added.

On the subject of the dropped catches for which Australia paid dearly, Paine said it was both technical glitch and not being in a good head space.

"There was probably little-bit of both, there was a slight technical thing, nothing major, that's for sure. I was little-bit tens that made my arms and hands a bit stiff, a bit tight," said Paine.

He explained why he dropped Rishabh Pant twice off Nathan Lyon.

"....at times, the ones of Nathan in particular, I actually let the ball get underneath my eyes and my hands were too close to my body and didn't have enough room to go with it," he said.

"...so for me it was slight technical tweak, making sure that I am getting my hands bit at front, giving myself bit more room to move and adapt with the ball and not let the ball get under my eyes. If it gets under your eyes, the you lose sight of it."

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AustraliaSteven Peter Devereux SmithTimothy David PaineIndia tour of Australia, 2020/21Australia vs India - 4th Test - Border-Gavaskar Trophy, 2020/21

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