Steve Smith does not enjoy memories of the venue when he last played a little over two years ago. Australia lost the Test by one wicket as Smith messed it up with a few overthrows.
“I know it was a little different the last time I was here. (I) came on as a 12th man and had three-four overthrows at the end of the game. (We) ended up losing the match. Hopefully we will get some play tomorrow, looking forward to it,’ said Smith as the first day’s play in the third Test was washed out on Thursday.
Informing that he had been training hard, Smith said, “There have been a few on the sidelines each time and only a couple have to be this time. Good chance to get in the nets and work on your skills during these times. I have done that and I am really feeling well at the moment. So to be back in the eleven, it’s very exciting.”
Smith, who has figured in five Tests and 33 ODIs, said he had improved in the past 18 months. “I have improved a lot in the last 12-18 months. Changed a couple of things in technique that have made me a bit more stable at the crease, more balanced and I guess more selective as well. I feel as though I am tightening my technique quite a bit. I feel I am playing spin really well on this trip in the nets and previously as well. I am looking forward to going out there in the middle and having a crack and hopefully I will be successful.”
He rated his batting higher. “Probably I have always been more of a batsman than I was a bowler. Getting picked in different teams for Australia is always very special. The first two Tests I played, I played as a specialist bowler. It’s a bit different now to come in as No. 5, specialist batter. That’s something that I have worked on in the last couple of years really hard. I am excited about coming in this Test as a batter and hopefully will get a few in the middle.”
Smith, 23, did not agree he was under any pressure. “It’s just another opportunity to come back. India have played some good cricket so far in this series, this is my first game in the series, so I am looking forward to coming in and hopefully making some contribution in trying to get back after this game 2-1 and 2-2 after the last game.”
On tackling spin, he observed, “I have been working hard on a couple of different methods I guess. In the nets I have played spin a lot in last couple of weeks. I have been working different methods and ways to controlling the play against spin, and hopefully the methods I have come up with will be successful these conditions. It’s always going to be tough playing against the quality of those spinners in these conditions but I feel as if I am up for the challenge. And hopefully will come up with some big runs.”
The Australian camp was boosted with the arrival of sports psychologist Michael Lloyd. Elaborating his importance, Smith said: “We had a chat with him, he is very good at his job. Just about the mental side of things, trying to prepare and making sure you have got a clear mind. I play my best cricket when my mind is clear. I don’t have too much thought running through, premeditating or doing different things. And that is the main thing.”