Smith: ‘There are no excuses from our side’

Australia skipper, who will play his 100th ODI at the Eden Gardens on Thursday, says his boys did the best they could do at the indoor nets.

Steve Smith discusses a point with Eden Gardens curator Sujan Mukherjee in Kolkata on Wednesday.   -  PTI

Amidst fickle weather and a loss at the back of his mind, Australia skipper Steve Smith is optimistic to turn things around in the second ODI against India — which is coincidentally his 100th game — at the Eden Gardens on Thursday.

The 28-year-old is keen to take a leaf out of his World Cup semifinal innings (105 off 93) against the Men in Blue at the Sydney Cricket Ground in 2015. “It was one of the memorable innings I have played so far; clearly, one of my better ODI hundreds. It was a big game and I had formed a solid partnership with Aaron Finch,” recalled the right-handed batsman, who has evolved as one of the top batters in world cricket in recent times.

“In the first 30 odd limited-over games I played towards the start of my career, I also bowled and then, there was a bit of change here and there. I have been batting at No 3 for a while now,” he added.

Smith’s mojo lies in “finding the tempo” when needed. “Whether it is hitting through and above the fielders at the deep or trying to find the right time for a boundary, I have evolved as a player,” he reasoned.

Former Australia skipper, Michael Clarke, also nodded to his craftsmanship as a batsman. He spoke highly of his batting prowess at a recent event in the city, but believed his captaincy skill is up for a challenge. Reacting to that, Smith added, “I don’t think I am in a bad place for captaincy. The results haven’t been the way we would have liked, but we are trying to rectify. The guys are working hard in the middle and we will ensure the job is done right there.”

The rains have been ominous for the Aussies since Champions Trophy, but they left no stone unturned in their preparations, as they trained at the indoor nets for the second consecutive day. “We have done as much we could do indoors. There are no excuses from out side. Injuries (losing Josh Hazlewood and Mitchell Starc) are never ideal, but it is a part of the game. Nathan Coulter-Nile and Pat Cummins were exceptional on top.”

Before wearing his pads, Smith also ran to the middle and had a quick look at the wicket. “There was a bit of grass, a little more than I have seen in India for a while. There were a few cracks but it looks alright. It looks like a used wicket. I will have another look tomorrow, also check on the weather and work on my plans accordingly. We expect to play 50 overs but if things go wrong from there, we got to adapt,” he said.

Before heading back to the hotel, Smith seconded his team-mate Adam Zampa about M.S. Dhoni being a threat to the visitors. He led the former India skipper in the IPL and is of the opinion that the veteran’s role in the team hasn’t changed. “Dhoni always batted at No 6 or No 7. He has been a finisher and has a phenomenal record.”