'I noticed Steve Smith constantly telling...': Ashwin spots plotting against Virat Kohli and Hardik Pandya
Ashwin spotted how Smith's captaincy played a huge role in dismissing a well-set Virat Kohli to turn the match and the series towards Australia.
Nine out of 10 times when Virat Kohli crosses fifty in a run-chase where the required rate is not even a concern, India end up on the winning side quite comfortably. The third ODI against Australia was that one rare occasion when they didn't. And Ravichandran Ashwin believes a lot of the credit for this must go to Steve Smith, who led the visitors brilliantly in regular captain Pat Cummins' absence ever since the second Test of the series.
Ashwin spotted how Smith's captaincy played a huge role in dismissing a well-set Virat Kohli to turn the match and the series towards Australia. India were in cruise control in their 270-run chase when Kohli was batting with KL Rahul. The latter was out caught at long on while trying to clear the fence and Axar Patel got run-out due to a mix-up. Even then the equation was in India's favour. They needed 119 runs off 127 balls with six wickets and a Kohli, batting on 48 in the middle.
Hardik Pandya started off well with a couple of attacking shots. That is when Smith noticed that the Chennai pitch, at times, was stopping a bit. In the 34th over of India's chase, Agar did exactly that and nearly dismissed both Kohli and Hardik off successive balls. On both occasions, the right-handers tried to go inside out against the left-arm spinner but the stop-and-start nature of the pitch did not allow them to hit through the line. The ball dropped just short off the long-off fielder twice.
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Ashwin said Smith noticed this and asked Agar to keep bowling it outside the off stump and entice Kohli and Hardik. He also instructed David Warner, standing at long-off to come up a couple of steps.
"Another talking point has to Virat Kohli's wonderful 50. Let me highlight Steve Smith's captaincy here. When Adam Zampa and Ashton were bowling, the pitch was holding a bit. Not all the balls turned, some were holding and going straight as well. Both Virat and Hardik tried to hit over extra cover and the ball fell just short of the long-off fielder. At that time, I noticed Steve Smith was constantly telling Ashtan Agar from the first slip, 'keep bowling it outside'. He was repeating this.
Because when they see the line, they will try to go over extra cover and if the ball holds its line and goes straight, it will go straight to long-off. He also made David Warner come in a bit from long-off and set-up the entire dismissal," Ashwin said on his YouTube channel.
In the first delivery of Agar's next over, Kohli's luck ran out and he ended up chipping a simple catch to Warner and long-off. After Kohli's dismissal, Suryakumar Yadav was cleaned up for his third golden duck in a row and India's chase derailed.
Ashwin, however, asked the fans to get behind Kohli as he looks to be in supreme touch.
"Usually, when Virat Kohli scores a fifty, he will convert it into an unbeatable hundred and prove why he is the king. But that did not happen. But fingers crossed, he is looking very good by the day. He is definitely going to turn it on during the World Cup, I have all the beliefs. Let's back him," he added.