Smith praises Kohli fitness ahead of 100th ODI

The Australia skipper says he transformed as a cricketer when he decided to become a full-time batsman. He also believes that the Indian skipper made the current team a fit unit.

Australian captain Steve Smith, who will play his 100th ODI on Thursday, lauded Indian skipper Virat Kohli's fitness and believes it is because of the Indian skipper, India is a fit unit.   -  AFP

Playing 100 ODI matches isn’t an ordinary feat, but it seems Australia skipper Steve Smith was destined for it. Call it his body language or the all-round ability (he used to bowl vicious leg breaks early in his career), he makes everything look normal. On the eve of the second ODI against India at the Eden Gardens here, the 28-year-old revealed how his thought process helps him tick all the boxes.

“I try to implement different skills on the nets, on decision making and I ensure my mind is in the right place. I also focus on witness. But I don’t like to think too far, although I want to do everything I can to be the best player in the world,” said Smith, ahead of his 100th ODI appearance at an event here on Wednesday.

Smith’s ODI journey
  • Matches 99
  • Runs 3,188
  • Highest score 164
  • Batting Average 43.67
  • 100s 8
  • 50s 17
  • Wickets 27
  • Best bowling 3/16

He reasoned that he became a better cricketer once he decided to concentrate more on his batting. “It got better when I thought I would become a full-time batsman. I am proud of my achievements so far, and I am sure I have many more games in me,” added Smith, who proved his world class potential on this ground, when he flew to take a catch in the IPL (for the now defunct Pune Warriors India) in 2012 on the boundary line. He got his man but he flung it back, while in the air, on realising that he was overstepping.

Though much has been said about the relationship between India skipper Virat Kohli and the Aussies, Smith believes it is because of Kohli that India is a fit unit today. “They take quite a lot of pride in their fitness today. I think Virat brought that into the group and it certainly makes a difference in their energy levels,” he said. However, when asked to choose which Indian cricketers he wished he had in his squad, he named Sachin Tendulkar and Harbhajan Singh.

Smith doesn’t want his 100th game to be a rain truncated rubber. He also agreed that sudden change of overs and targets is a challenge for any cricketer. Australia failed to chase down 164 in 21 overs in the first ODI and the skipper feels it was achievable. “You see these kind of targets quite often in T20 cricket. There are four men out majority of the time, so it should have been a little easier. But new-ball bowlers do make a difference. It was a good wicket for new-ball bowlers. We also lost early wickets which isn’t ideal,” he added.

However, his dream is to win a Test series in India, like his predecessor Adam Gilchrist who did it in 2004. “You need to find the right ways to play the game and practise the right things to win a Test series in India. With variations of spin, the wicket here is different compared to home. You got to have your ideas in place and execute your skills. There is plenty to think about and work accordingly. The next time we are here for a Test series, we can work on those skills and give India a run for their money,” chuckled Smith.

The right-handed batsman has often proved to be India’s nemesis. He knocked the Men in Blue out of the World Cup in 2015 with a brilliant century (105). Earlier this year, in Tests, he smashed 109 in Pune for a winning cause.