‘The more I padded up, the better I have felt’ - Smith’s parting words

Australia batsman Steve Smith will be playing his last match in IPL 2019 when Rajasthan Royals take on Virat Kohli’s Royal Challengers Bangalore on Tuesday.

Rajasthan Royals captain Steve Smith speaks to the media at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bengaluru on Monday.   -  G.P. SAMPATH KUMAR

 

Rajasthan Royals skipper Steve Smith will be playing his last IPL match of the season against Royal Challengers Bangalore at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bengaluru on Tuesday before heading back to Australia for the national team’s World Cup preparations.

Under Smith, who took over the captaincy from Ajinkya Rahane in the middle of the tournament, the Royals have registered three wins in four matches. After a forgettable start, the wins have kindled hopes of a playoffs berth. “We have won three out of the last four and it is very important for us to win the last two games to give ourselves a chance to qualify. You know we can’t think about other results, all we can focus is on how we are playing and hopefully the boys can get over the line tomorrow night and then go and win in Delhi as well and give ourselves a chance to qualify,” he said.

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Reflecting on his season with the Royals, the Australian said: “I think I have probably taken a little while to sort of warm into things. The start of the tournament did not go as well as I would have like personally or collectively as a group. But I think the more I have padded up, the better I have felt as the tournament has gone on. I’ve been able to contribute to a couple of wins, probably, in the last two matches, so felt very good,” he said.

Smith will be returning to national duty for the first time since completing the one-year ban for his role in ball-tampering in South Africa. He said playing T20 cricket in India has helped him prepare for the World Cup.

“I think T20 cricket almost prepares you well for 50-over cricket nowadays, the way the game is played. I think 50 overs is almost an extended version of T20. The game has evolved particularly over the past few years. So, I think it may be a good preparation personally for me to be able to play and then, just spend time in the middle and playing white-ball cricket against quality opposition — best players from India and around the world.

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“In terms of preparation, I’m really comfortable. I head home and we have three matches against New Zealand and a couple of warm-up matches when we get to England. There is plenty of time to prepare and be ready to play,” he said.

Smith has scored 319 runs in 11 IPL matches including three half-centuries.

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