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Steve Smith wants to cash in on South Africa punctured by India

Steve Smith, Australia skipper, believes the four-Test series in South Africa will be a battle of fast bowlers, unlike the big role spin played in India’s ODI series win.

cricket Updated: Feb 17, 2018 21:36 IST
Khurram Habib
Khurram Habib
Hindustan Times, Johannesburg
Steve Smith,South Africa vs Australia,South Africa vs India
Steve Smith said Australia would like to benefit from the dip in confidence in the South Africa camp after the loss in the Johannesburg Test and the ODI series versus India.(Twitter )

Seeing the Indian leg-spinners pin down South Africa batsmen has left Australia skipper Steven Smith wishing he had a leggie in his arsenal for the four-Test series starting next month. Smith was speaking at the arrival press conference here on Saturday.

“Yeah, I think. Yeah,” he replied when asked whether a leg-spinner would have been handy. “I think (off-spinner) Nathan Lyon has been a good spinner and he has done well recently. No doubt he can play a big part in this series.”

(Read | Steve Smith, Australia cricket captain, relishing break after suffering from mental fatigue)

For the record, Smith is a part-time leg-spinner.

PACE BATTLE

Despite saying that Lyon would play a role, the Australia skipper expected the series to be a battle between fast bowlers, involving lot of short-pitched stuff to not only the tail-enders, but also to top-order batsmen.

(Read | Indian cricket team to play 30 ODIs in build-up to ICC World Cup next season)

“South Africa have good, young pace bowlers and also have (Vernon) Philander. The batters would love to take up the challenge. It will be a bit challenging for the batsmen. But it is going to be a fantastic series for the viewers,” he said. “Both the fast bowling line-ups are good, it will be a nice, fiery series for the batters and a tough one too.”

Going by their current form and a struggling South African batting unit, Australia begin favourites. Smith says he’d like to benefit from the dip in confidence in the South Africa camp after the loss in the Johannesburg Test and the ODI series versus India.

(Read | South Africa will rely on ‘aggressive mindset’ in T20 series vs India: JP Duminy)

“I have been watching the one-dayers in bits and pieces over the last few days. South Africa have not been at their best, although the Indians have been playing really well. For us, it is important to keep their confidence low and start really well in the first Test in Durban,” Smith added.

The four-Test series starts on March 1.

(Read | Eoin Morgan to take it slow with Ben Stokes and backs Adil Rashid)

Smith is also keeping an eye on Lungi Ngidi. It will be interesting to see how Smith, who shuffles across and covers his stumps, battles with Ngidi, who comes wide of the crease and angles the ball in.

Australia and South Africa have been beating each other at the other’s home. A big reason, says Smith, is similar conditions.

“We got beat by SA at home a year ago. That was a bit of a low point for Australian cricket, so it will be great if we can turn the tide in SA.”

(Read | ‘Hope top Indian players participate in Lankan Premier League’)

One major concern has been workload. The Aussie skipper acknowledged he was so tired he didn’t want to pick up the bat until two weeks ago when he eventually got a break. He is now raring to go as the break has done him and his team a world of good. Australia have been playing T20s and Tests almost simultaneously.

Last year too, while their T20 team was playing in Australia, they were starting Tests in India. The T20 team is now playing in the Trans-Tasman Tri-series, also involving England.

“In an ideal world, we would have liked no clashes. But in the Test team, everyone other than Davey (David Warner) is free. Sometimes, it is tough for the schedules. We have a few days of training before we get into the Test.”

First Published: Feb 17, 2018 21:33 IST