‘They are of high quality’: Steve Smith names two India batsmen who can fill the void of big stars
It won’t be an exaggeration if we state that India find themselves in a near-similar situation to what Australia were the last time Virat Kohli’s men toured down under in 2018-19. India will be without the services of their captain Virat Kohli for as many as three Tests as he would go on a paternity leave after the first Test. There still are question marks over the availability of a number of key players like Rohit Sharma, Wriddhiman Saha, and Ishant Sharma for the Test series. Rohit is obviously not a part of the limited-overs sides.
Australia, on the other hand, have been bolstered with the return of their two best all-format batsmen Steve Smith and David Warner, who were not a part of their side when India beat them in both ODIs and Tests.
While the absence of key players is certain to create a deep hole in the Indian batting line-up, Smith believes India have enough firepower to fill the gap.
The former Australia skipper named two batsmen who he believes can stand up in the absence of India’s big stars. “But I guess the beauty with the Indian team is there are so many batters coming through, that are of high quality,” Smith said during a virtual press conference facilitated by Sony Network.
Smith praised Mayank Agarwal and KL Rahul and lauded them for their recent success in the IPL.
“You can look at someone like Mayank Agarwal in the IPL, just smashed, KL Rahul in the top order as well. There are plenty of options there for them so, look you leave a hole no doubt, but quality players there to back him up,” Smith explained.
When asked about Kohli’s absence for the major part of the Test series Smith said: “I think with Virat and the Test squad. You know there are a number of players who can come in and do a good job.”
“Virat is of obviously of high quality, and we know how good he has been in all forms for a long period of times, so it is certainly going to leave a hole but I still do believe that they have got some quality batters waiting in the wings to fill that void.”
During last India Test series in Australia, Smith was banned for ball tampering and missed out on challenging one of his favourite opposition.
Will it make him hungrier? “I don’t know if it makes me hungrier. I am always pretty hungry to go out and perform and do well. I guess it was tough watching from the sidelines and particularly with the team not doing as well,” he said.
He admitted that it was difficult to see Tim Paine’s boys lose the series 1-2. “Obviously they wouldn’t have liked losing that series. That was difficult to watch, that was hard but certainly look forward to this series, two of the top teams in the word going out, two quality pace and batting -line ups and makes for an interesting and exciting summer.”
Sledging according to Smith is over-rated in India versus Australia contests especially after all players converge during IPL and no one wants an awkward situation.
“People talk so much about sledging and stuff but really there is very little that happens in our days. I think that’s probably a lot to do with things like IPL,” he said.
“You know IPL brings players from all around the world together, so for instance if you get stuck in to someone one day, you might be playing with them a few weeks or few months later. “....And then, it’s a bit awaked sort of conversation, so honestly, it does not happen too much in our days.”
(With PTI inputs)