Smith: ‘India prepared the wicket and played into our hands’

With the Australia Test cap firmly placed on his head, Steve Smith looked a proud captain at the post match press conference. Having notched his first win in Asia, Smith spoke like a thorough professional.

“I think Virat was getting a little bit angry on the fielders for dropping catches. He is obviously a world class player and we expect him to comeback hard.”   -  PTI

With the Australia Test cap firmly placed on his head, Steve Smith looked a proud captain at the post match press conference. Having notched his first win in Asia, Smith spoke like a thorough professional, repeatedly averring India is a tough team to beat in home conditions.

“Right up there. Coming to India, we haven’t won a game here in 4,502 days. I’ve been told those facts. So it has been an incredibly long time. Guys have been excited by the opportunity to come and play here. We know it’s a great challenge, and in this game the boys were up to the challenge.

“I think it was fortunate; Day One win the toss and to post 260 on that wicket was very good. And then our bowlers went to work. I thought Sok (Stephen O’Keefe) was absolutely amazing to consistently land the ball in good areas and get the natural variation was absolutely outstanding. He was well supported by Nathan Lyon and the two fast bowlers as well.”

After his arrival in Mumbai for the tour, Smith had made a distinction about bowling in Australian and Indian conditions and on that occasion too, he had said his bowlers will have to depend on the natural variations of the pitch. Having played in the IPL for five seasons, Smith knew the tricks of spin bowing.

When asked if the “designer pitch” here could have been made with instructions coming from the home team and the change he expects in Bengaluru, Ranchi and Dharamsala, Smith said: “I think it was certainly a wicket that would more likely suit the Indian players. I think it evened up the contest a lot more. We saw the way our spinners bowled on that, they were able to generate some good spin and good natural variation out off the wicket. So, it was upto them to prepare a wicket, and they prepared a wicket that actually played into our hands. It would be interesting to see what they come up with come Bangalore.”

On his second innings century

“It’s going to be right up there. I obviously rode my luck throughout the innings, had a few lives. But you need a bit of luck on a wicket like that, and I was pleased with myself to score a second innings hundred in India. I formulated some different plans for problem solving on the spot. So from that aspect I’m pleased with myself.”

On his spinners

“I think Nathan and Steve bowled a really good length, and just hit that length consistently. If you are challenging the defence and if you’re able to beat the bat on both sides, you have a real good chance to take wickets on that wicket. SoK was able to beat the bat on both sides and find the edge and hit the pad consistently. If you’re attacking the stumps enough like that, then you’re going to get rewards.”

Message for his boys

“Congratulations. Terrific job over the last three days. But it’s only one game (done). It’s a four-match series and we’d like to win the series, as you like to do with every series. For us it’s about taking it one day at a time and continuing to worry about our processes. If we do that like we did in this game, hopefully the result will take care of itself. But it’s going to be a tough road, we know India are going to come back incredibly hard. They’re an amazing team particularly in their own backyard. They’re going to come back hard. And we’ve got to be ready for it.”

Lessons from Sri Lanka tour

“Here we probably kept the foot on the throat. When we got ourselves in the positions to win in Sri Lanka, we let the opposition get back into the game. In this Test, we didn’t let India back in the game after the first innings. So what is pleasing is that we’re learning and trying to improve in different ways. It was certainly positive that we were able to dominate throughout the Test match.”

On O’Keefe and Lyon bowling fuller length

“I think a lot of their right-handers and left-handers got beaten a lot on the outside edge of the bat. Those guys are big spinners of the ball and generally it's the one that goes straight that gets you in a bit of trouble. It's great that guys are learning and actually playing for that straight one and allowing the one to spin past the bat. That's been a big learning curve for us as a team for a while. It's great that we were able to implement the things we have practised and talked about in the game. In regards to our spinners, SOKs, compared to Jadeja, probably goes a little bit wider of the crease and is a little bit more side-arm. So he potentially doesn't have to get the ball to straighten quite as much to find the outside edge. It's really smart bowling and you get the rewards for that.”

Doing things right

“I would not say it was perfect. We did a lot of things right in this Test match, that's for sure. But there are still areas that we can improve on. In the first innings we lost a few in clumps and then needed Starky's innings to score 260, that was a big moment in the game. So for us it's about continuing to identify those periods where we need to knuckle down, get through and show some fight and resilience. We know as batters the longer you are out in the middle, things get easier. So it's about trying to find a plan when you first get out there. Guys had some good plans throughout this Test match and stuck to them. Sometimes they don't come off but a lot of the time if you have confidence in it, over a long period of time it will work.”

Pressure

“It was upon us. Everyone wrote us off and expected India to win four-nil. That can't happen anymore. It's great to have won this first Test match and there is still long way to go throughout this series. India are going to come back hard. I am really proud of the way the boys have played in this Test match and go one-up in this series.”

On Virat

“I think he was getting a little bit angry on the fielders for dropping catches. He is obviously a world class player and we expect him to comeback hard.”