Steve Smith: ‘We want to improve our India record’

The Aussies have usually found it tough in the subcontinent, and the recent record has been abysmal to say the least. The last tour to India saw the team surrender rather abjectly and lose 4-0 without providing any sort of challenge.

“I am not worrying about the results, I am more concerned about the processes – knowing when to attack and when to defend will be the key to winning.”   -  REUTERS

Steve Smith has a rather unenviable task of leading an Australian team in India. The Aussies have usually found it tough in the subcontinent, and the recent record has been abysmal to say the least. “We know we have lost the last nine Test and sure want to win to improve our record,” said Smith. The last tour to India saw the team surrender rather abjectly and lose 4-0 without providing any sort of challenge.

The current crop of players too doesn’t come in with great expectations, so much so that Harbhajan Singh has already said that even if it manages to play well, Australia will lose the series 3-0. Smith responded to that jibe, saying everyone is entitled to their opinions. “I am confident in the squad we have here, India has played some pretty good cricket off late and we are under no illusions of the task that lies ahead of us. But we have the team that can compete in these conditions.”

Smith further added that the focus is more on the processes. “I am not worrying about the results, I am more concerned about the processes – knowing when to attack and when to defend will be the key to winning.”

Sri Lanka has proved to be a tough learning curve but Smith admits he is a smarter captain now: “I learnt quite a lot playing there. I learnt how to handle things in the sub-continent. Playing in these conditions, there’s a different tempo that always goes on, there are times when you need to attack and times when you need to defend. So for me as captain, it’s about identifying these periods quickly and not letting the game get away too much before you start to defend, or attacking quick enough. For me, it’s about identifying those moments and coming up with the right plan at the right time.”

Starc is key

Starc and his ability to reverse swing will be crucial for Australia, and Smith admits that “Starc can bowl at 150 kmph and he knows the art of taking wickets. Reverse swing is going to be pretty important in this series. Looking at this wicket, it looks like it’s going to be slow, the ball’s probably going to get chewed up pretty quickly. It might be difficult at times for the fast bowlers to get wickets with the slowness of the wicket, but making the ball shift in the air is certainly going to make it easier for them.”

On the challenge of playing spin especially the straighter balls which tend to get most of the wickets, Smith added that the team will be looking to execute the plans it has. “There is uncertainty of what the ball’s sort of going to do off the pitch. Playing spin in Australia - the bounce and the spin - is generally pretty consistent. It’s here where there is uncertainties that we can become unstuck as a batter. “

He said that each batsman will need to have their own plans against Jadeja and Ashwin, and hopefully execute those out in the middle.