Smith 'finds hands' as Australia talisman prepares for India tussle

By Sports Desk November 24, 2020

Australia star batsman Steve Smith believes he has found the rhythm and technique that had gone missing from his game, just in time for the home series against India.

The former captain felt the disruption of the COVID-19 lockdown in his batting, with his once-assured mastery of the crease replaced by a sense something was not quite right.

It is only in the past week, he said on Tuesday, that Smith has begun to feel like his old self.

After struggling for form in the recent Indian Premier League, where he captained Rajasthan Royals, Smith is out to remind India what he is really about.

The 31-year-old said: "The past few days I have found something... I have found my hands which I am extremely excited about.

"I had a big smile on my face after training the other day, I walked past [Australia assistant coach] Andrew McDonald and said, 'I've found them again'."

The rejuvenated Smith has even been sharpening up his batting skills in his hotel bedroom, which has not been overwhelmingly popular with team-mates.

He said: "I've done a bit of shadow batting in the hotel and copped a few messages last night saying, 'stop tapping the bat down'."

An in-form Smith would be a formidable opponent for any touring side, and a hugely valuable asset for Australia, whose three-match ODI series against India starts in Sydney on Friday.

That will be followed by three Twenty20 clashes and four Test matches.

Smith explained his technical tweaks, saying: "Theoretically it is a simple thing, but it is just getting that feel and the look of the bat behind my toe the right way and the way my hands come up on the bat.

"It's hard to explain but it just hasn't quite been right until probably two days ago and I found a little something and everything just clicked in.

"It's taken me a lot longer than usual, I don't know why… I pretty much didn't bat for four months at the start of COVID."

Smith said he was "pretty disappointed" with his form for Rajasthan, for whom he scored just 311 runs in 14 innings at an average of 25.91, with only three half-centuries.

"There are those players around the world that can hit sixes at will, and I'm probably not one of those," he said.

"For me it's about playing proper cricket shots and hitting the gaps and manipulating the field as much as I can, and I probably went away from that a bit in the IPL."

Related items

  • Australia left frustrated as rain cuts day two short in Brisbane Australia left frustrated as rain cuts day two short in Brisbane

    Australia were left frustrated as day two of the fourth Test against India was cut short after rain in Brisbane.

    Only 54.2 overs were bowled at the Gabba on Saturday as India reached 62-2 in response to Australia's first-innings 369.

    Heavy rain delayed the start of the final session before a wet outfield meant play was abandoned.

    Tim Paine scored a half-century for Australia as T Natarajan (3-78), Washington Sundar (3-89) and Shardul Thakur (3-94) took three wickets each for India.

    Rohit Sharma (44) wasted his start as he tried to attack Nathan Lyon (1-10) after Pat Cummins (1-22) had Shubman Gill (7) caught at second slip by Steve Smith.

    Cheteshwar Pujara (8) and Ajinkya Rahane (2) were unbeaten when stumps were called, with India 307 runs adrift in the final Test of a series that is locked at 1-1.

    Injury-hit India continued to fight and they only need a draw to retain the Border-Gavaskar Trophy.

    Australia, though, will also lament some of their batting that could have put India under more pressure.

    Starts squandered as tail wags for Australia

    Marnus Labuschagne made a century on Friday, but four other batsmen made more than 36 but failed to go on for Australia.

    Paine (50) and Cameron Green (47) joined that group on day two as they squandered promising starts, with Lyon (24) – playing his 100th Test – and Mitchell Starc (20 not out) lifting Australia beyond 350.

    Reckless Rohit hurts India

    Like many in the Australia line-up, Rohit wasted another opportunity to put together a big score in Brisbane.

    He looked in control before attempting to take on Lyon one too many times, and a running Starc took a good catch. The 33-year-old is one of India's more experienced players and his dismissal left the tourists at 60-2. It comes after he made scores of 26 and 52 in Sydney.

  • The start of something very special - Root delights at Lawrence's debut class The start of something very special - Root delights at Lawrence's debut class

    Dan Lawrence gave Joe Root a first-hand look at his talents on debut in Sri Lanka and the England Test captain came away impressed.

    Root brought up his 18th century in the longest format and reached 168 not out before rain and bad light spared Sri Lanka the punishment of an evening session on day two.

    The other stand-out turn in England amassing 320-4 - a first-innings lead of 185 after the hosts were skittled on day one - was Lawrence, who plundered a stylish 73 to announce himself at the highest level.

    A mighty slog-swept six off left-arm spinner Lasith Embuldeniya came with ample panache and was the shot of the day.

    He helped add 173 alongside Root for the fourth wicket and the captain looked on approvingly.

    "I'm very impressed, I thought he played magnificently well," he said.

    "He showed exactly why he deserves his opportunity to play, and hopefully it is the start of something very special for him."

    Root surpassed Kevin Pietersen's 151 in Colombo nine years ago to register England's highest score in Sri Lanka.

    Despite this being his first Test century since November 2019, the Yorkshireman showed he had not lost his knack for going big - this his eighth score in excess of 150.

    "Generally when I make a 100, I make it really count," he said.

    "I have got quite a good record past 100, so tomorrow I will be trying to make that another really big one and drive the game forward from there.

    "I felt that I got in a really good mindset throughout this game so far and I will try and take that into the rest of this winter tour and beyond.

    "The previous couple of hundreds that I have got - even though they were a while ago - have come at the end of series.

    "So to get one at the start of a very long winter is quite exciting, and hopefully I can take that forward into the rest of the game."

  • Root dominates Sri Lanka as England tighten grip Root dominates Sri Lanka as England tighten grip

    Joe Root led from the front with an unbeaten century to leave England in complete control of the first Test against Sri Lanka in Galle.

    Resuming on 66, the England captain batted throughout truncated day two in masterful fashion, reaching 168 at tea before rain and bad light put paid to the final session, with the tourists on 320-4 - a first-innings lead of 185.

    Debutant Dan Lawrence made a wonderfully fluent 73 as part of a 173 alongside Root, with Sri Lanka's main hopes of avoiding a heavy defeat already seemingly pinned on further unseasonably wet weather.

    Events might have panned out very differently had Dilruwan Perera removed Root lbw with the first ball of the day, but an umpire's call fell in the batsman's favour and he was off and running with a straight four crunched back down the ground in the same over.

    The tireless Lasith Embuldeniya claimed his third wicket of the match as Kusal Mendis held a sharp chance at gully to dismiss Jonny Bairstow three runs shy of a half-century.

    Unfortunately for Sri Lanka, Lawrence showed no sign of debut nerves as his attractive, smooth-wristed style transferred easily to the Test arena.

    The highlight of the 23-year-old's 150-ball knock came when he launched left-arm spinner Embuldeniya for a huge, slog-swept six.

    Root and Lawrence played in unhurried fashion off front and back foot, devouring a heavy diet of spin bowling until Dilruwan found extra bounce with the second new ball to have the youngster caught by Mendis at short leg.

    Jos Buttler's scratchy progress against Dilruwan showed batting might not be quite as easy on a turning surface as Root and Lawrence suggested, meaning England are ominously placed despite the lost time.

    Root begins pivotal year in emphatic fashion

    A packed 2021 schedule is likely to define Root's reign as England's Test captain, with home and away series against India preceding a trip to Australia and a third crack at Ashes glory in his tenure.

    He probably took a light lunch, having ended the first session on 99 in pursuit of a first ton in the longest format since November 2019.

    In truth, the immaculate balance and judgement Root displayed throughout made an 18th Test century feel like a formality and, after nudging a single off Dilruwan from the second ball of the session, he went on to surpass Kevin Pietersen's 151 in Colombo in 2012 to make England's highest individual score in Sri Lanka.

    Lawrence gives England a handy problem

    Root and head coach Chris Silverwood will need to call on squad depth as they negotiate the challenges of the year to come and Lawrence's stylish introduction to the middle order was most welcome.

    A remodelled Test side designed to bat time at the top of the order with the likes of Dom Sibley, Zak Crawley and Rory Burns now has another option in the engine room to make the purists purr. Ollie Pope knows he must hit the ground running on his expected return from shoulder surgery in India.

    Embuldeniya gamely holds the fort in Galle

    Sri Lanka's spinners have matched their batsmen for ineptitude at times, with Dilruwan struggling for length before finding some rhythm prior to tea and leg-spinner Hasaranga De Silva (0-63) going at more than four an over.

    Skipper Dinesh Chandimal has turned time and again to Embuldeniya, who has wheeled through 38 overs for his 3-131. If a five-wicket haul arrives it will be the result of relentless toil.

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.