Over the past few months Virat Kohli has shown that there is always place for classical batsmen in the shortest format. T20 is not all about slam-bang from the word go.
On Friday, Steve Smith corroborated Kohli. The Australian is not a big hitter, but his orthodox approach with a touch of aggression helped the Pune side put on a decent total and also made him the third batsmen to score a century in this edition of the IPL. He finished with 101 off 54 balls, his best in 53 outings in the league.
During his innings, he made sure he put the loose balls away, was quick off the blocks to take those singles and twos and in between, hit some classical shots which would have delighted the purists as well.
The conditions were to his liking as well with the ball coming on to the bat much quicker than it had done in the two previous matches. Even luck went his way as he was called back after being bowled by left-arm chinaman bowler Shivil Kaushik as replays showed it was a no ball. That was the only time when he went for a cross-batted heave and for the rest of the match stuck to the tried-and-tested shots down the ground or in the mid-wicket region.
As if to compensate, Smith hit the very next delivery bowled by the debutant for a six. It was Smith’s first six of the tournament and he went on to hit four more.
Smith, the most experienced of the foreigners in MS Dhoni’s squad after the departure of Kevin Pietersen and Faf du Plessis though injuries, showed urgency in his batting but never really looked as if he was going overboard; controlled aggression, one would say.
He got a loose one on the legs to start with, which he glanced to the boundary and from there he never looked back.
As the innings progressed, even James Faulkner and Dwayne Bravo’s slower ones didn’t deter him. It was a crucial innings for him from the Australian point of view as well as he had a sedate outing in the recent World T20.
Smith was in his element on a ground where he once used to be a substitute fielder during his time with the now defunct Pune Warriors.