Steve Smith has conceded that Virat Kohli’s field setting didn’t allow Australia to open their arms in the fifth and final ODI in Nagpur that resulted in a mediocre first innings total of 242/9. Smith has also blamed the team's lack of adaptability as the reason for their 4-1 drubbing in India.
After making a stirring comeback to win the penultimate ODI match of the series in Bengaluru, Australia, yet again, failed to capitalize on a good start and collapsed from 66 for 0 to 118 for 4. Virat Kohli changed his bowlers really well and kept an attacking field set to restrict the opposition within a sub-par score of 242 runs, which was never going to be enough against the Indian batting lineup that stretches all the way to No.7. Smith admitted that by stating Kohli’s aggressive and intelligent positioning restricted the visitors from scoring runs freely.
“Virat (Kohli) set some really good fields and stopped us from hitting and I don’t think we adapted well enough. Today was probably a day when we could have used softer hands, played a bit square and hit the ball into the gaps instead of actually hitting down the ground,” Smith was quoted as saying by PTI.
“We’ve addressed the issue of losing wickets in a heap several times. We are just not taking our words out in the middle and delivering with our actions, unfortunately. We have glimpses of it, play well in periods and then we just get ourselves in trouble, probably from poor decision-making or under pressure maybe. That’s what we might have to put it down to, worst of all. It’s just not good enough.
“We showed some glimpses throughout the series that we could play, but we’ve been losing wickets in clumps very consistently and that’s not good enough. The top four need to stand up and really take control. We did that in a couple of games, last game in Bangalore to be particular. But we are not doing it consistently enough. We are not giving ourselves the chance to really go hard at the back end of the game and getting partnerships in the middle, something we need to look at."
Australia’s missed their two main pacers, Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood, who missed out on the tour due to injury problems, but the pace duo of Nathan Coulter-Nile and Pat Cummins did a decent job throughout the series. However, their batting seemed toothless and Smith explained that due to the string of losses away from home, the players on this tour are likely to face stiff competition from those performing well in the domestic one-day tournament back home.
“Guys are back home playing the domestic one-day domestic competition at the moment and some of them can put some pressure on the guys that are here. Obviously, the results haven’t been good enough and we want our guys to perform consistently. We will have a good look at the one-day competition back home and hopefully, a few guys can jump out of the pack and score big runs and bowl really well as well,” Smith said.
Smith, too, didn’t have a great series by his own lofty standards and could only manage to score two half-centuries and ended the series with 142 runs at an average of 28.62. He didn’t shy away from accepting the fact and stated that as a leader of the team, it had been a disappointing performance.
“I wasn’t feeling great at the start of the series, but I’m feeling okay now. I had a few issues that I was working on but I guess I slowly found out a nice tempo which I’m after. I would have loved to score a lot more runs. Having not been able to get those runs like I have been in the past few occasions… From that aspect, as a leader of the team, it has been disappointing. But I guess that’s cricket, you have those periods when you’re not playing or getting the scores that you like,” Smith concluded.
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