Smith to opt for adaptive captaincy on India tour

"For me, it's about understanding the different times in a game. There's time in a game where you can attack more, and times when you need to defend a little bit, and let the game take its course for a little and then try and keep things quite tight," says Steve Smith about the style of captaincy he would follow in India.

Australian cricket captain Steve Smith speaks at a news conference in Mumbai on Tuesday.   -  REUTERS

Steve Smith is the 14th player to lead an Australian team to India. He described the forthcoming four-Test series, the first of which starts in Pune on February 23, as a "great occasion and a challenge for his batsmen and bowlers".

Smith’s team trained and practised in simulated 'Indian conditions' at the ICC Global Cricket Academy in Dubai for about 10 days before arriving here on Monday evening. The team also spent a week with former England left-arm spinner Monty Panesar in Brisbane and thereafter engaged former India left-arm spinner Sridharan Sriram to hone its skills.

Australia’s aim will be to improve its record in India (46 matches: 12 wins, 19 losses, 14 draws and 1 tie). As captain of the team, the 27-year-old Sydney-sider managed to turn things around from the 'Pink ball Test’ against South Africa after losing the first two Tests and the series. Before the series against South Africa, Australia had lost 3-0 to Sri Lanka. However, no bowling combination – at home or away — has been able to stop Smith's big appetite for runs. He has a fantastic average of 60.15 from exactly 100 Test innings. The Australian captain has been prolific at No. 3, 4 and 5.

"I guess the last four years since I've been here, I have had a pretty good run as a batter. Hopefully it can continue in this tour. I've learnt a fair bit along the way as captain. You learn a lot more from losing games than you do from winning.

"The last year has been a roller-coaster ride with regard to results. I think this team has come a long way. We're learning a lot, we're willing to put in the hard work, trying to get the best out of ourselves and the team," Smith told media persons on Tuesday.

"So I'm happy with where everything is at the moment. Obviously, this is going to be a difficult tour. And I'm excited by that challenge. I think all the guys are really excited about what's to come in the next six weeks. It's a challenge to play in India and we know that if we can pull something off and win a series here, we can look back in 10-20 years and it would be some of the best times of our lives. So it's a great occasion to play here in India,'' he said.

Smith said his team prepared on some good wickets (in Dubai) and tried to find game plans that can work in Indian conditions and against the spinners. "We are ready to go. It was a bit of both (technical and mental preparation in Dubai). Batting in Test cricket is about making good decisions and doing that for long periods of time. We had some difficult conditions in Dubai where the ball was turning and there was some inconsistent bounce. Now it will be about implementing them in the game and doing it for long periods of time in India.’’

Touching upon the captaincy style he would follow in India, Smith said: "For me, it's about understanding the different times in a game. There's time in a game where you can attack more, and times when you need to defend a little bit, and let the game take its course for a little and then try and keep things quite tight. And when you get a sniff, really go for it. I think that's an important aspect of captaincy here in India; it's about knowing the right periods and timing those periods right, when to sort of take the foot off the pedal and go hard as well. I learnt a little about that in Sri Lanka.’’

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