CHENNAI: Steve Smith is known for his meticulous preparations. If the series is in the subcontinent, he blindly trusts spin consultant Sridharan Sriram. This trip of India has seen them try out several things in order to cope with the wrist spin challenge India is going to pose, in the form of Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav.
A couple of days back, at the instance of Sriram, Tamil Nadu leg-spinner Murugan Ashwin was seen bowling to the Australians at the nets. On Friday and Saturday, it was KK Jiyas, a chinaman bowler from Kerala who has been in the Delhi Daredevils squad in the IPL, bowling at them. It was Sriram who came up with the idea, to help the Aussies prepare for Kuldeep.
Smith rates Kuldeep as a talented youngster with a bright future. “Some of these guys (Indian bowlers including Kuldeep) have played against me in the IPL. Kuldeep has done well in Sri Lanka, he is a good talent and it’s difficult to pick him at times. He’s someone you have to watch very closely. We have to put him under pressure early in his spell,” opined the captain.
“Sri organised for him (Jiyas) to come down and be part of the training. It’s a chance for us to play someone like Kuldeep. There aren’t too many around the world. They are a little different and we have got someone who bowls a bit of that,’’ said Smith after Saturday’s practice session.
Along with David Warner, Smith is one of the players that many believe holds the key for Australia. They insist he has to stay till the end and guide the team.
“It’s important for someone in the top four to stay there and make a big score. We have got guys who can do that. In any team it is important that the top guys stay around and set the game up. Last time in India (2013) 350 was the par score. If wickets are the same, we need someone to stay and make a big score.”
On the presence of many all-rounders in his ranks, he said, “Travis Head will probably bat four. I won’t give too much away other than that. We’re going to have a look at the wicket on Sunday and see what’s the best. There might be a bit of rain around and choice of all-rounder depends on the conditions. We’ve got a few options. India have got a strong top seven and we have to bowl really well throughout the series,’’ signed off Smith.
Jadeja drafted in
Left-arm spinner Axar Patel was ruled out of India’s first three ODIs against Australia, after spraining his left ankle during a football session here on Friday. Ravindra Jadeja has been named in his place. The Gujarat player did not take part in the net session on Saturday, and his participation in the rest of the series is still undecided. Both Chahal and Kuldeep are likely to feature in playing XI.
Since 2013 January, the average first-innings score in India vs Australia games is 321.
India have lost just three of their last 15 ODIs, all away from home.