Australian skipper Aaron Finch has hailed the importance of David Warner and Steven Smith to Australia's T20I side. The pair starred in a dominant batting performance in the third and deciding game of the South Africa series in their first game at Newlands since the ball-tampering scandal of 2018.
David Warner scored 120 in an explosive opening partnership alongside Finch, to set the game up for Australia. The pair put on 75 in the powerplay, Australia's joint third-highest total in the powerplay in T20I history. This allowed only seven dot balls in that phase, their lowest ever. Smith who was demoted from his usual No. 3 position down to No. 5, But even in an unfamiliar role, Smith scored 20 runs from Anrich Nortje's final over. The right-hand batsman praised both his improving touch game and his meticulous planning.
"As good as anyone I've played with. In this format of the game and probably one-day cricket as well, Davey's been so consistent for such a long time. I think if you look at his IPL record where he's played the majority of his T20 cricket, it's been super consistent and he's someone that once he gets in and once he's in good form, he's so hard to bowl to because he accesses both sides of the ground, he's got touch, he's got power, so as soon as you've got guys like that, they can be so hard to stop. His attention to detail in his planning is unbelievable and as good as anyone I've played with," revealed Finch, reported ESPNCricinfo.
Meanwhile, Smith was played at no.5 to give opportunities to their middle-order batsmen and to maintain left-hand/right-hand partnerships due to the strong cross-wind that blew across Newlands. But even at this position, Smith proved his worth to his team. This was Smith's first innings at No. 5 in T20Is, meaning he has now played in every position from No. 3 to No. 9 in the format, he found a way to stamp his mark on the game, taking 20 runs from Anrich Nortje's final over to finish unbeaten on 30 from 15 balls. The 33-year-old further said that the ability to do what the right-hander has been doing is extraordinary.
"[He's] a little bit different [to Warner] in regards to being a middle-order player, No. 3, 4, 5 throughout his career. You're always faced with different challenges. So to have that ability to come in and strike at 200 when the game requires it, or come in at 2 for 10 and navigate through a tricky six or seven overs but still score, the ability to do that has been extraordinary. I think what's changed for him slightly in his game is he's probably got a bit more power - maybe he's always had the power, but a little bit more freedom to play his shots, and I think that's been a huge difference to his game,” he added.
"Teams used to think that they could just squeeze him, he wouldn't hurt you too much at the back end, but to develop all the shots that he's got now, he's a super-important player to us, and he's bloody impressive to watch," expressed the 33-year-old.
While the top order and his bowling attack were impressive throughout the three-match series, Finch could be forgiven for having concerns over Australia's faltering middle order. The No. 4-6 positions have been the most vulnerable across their recent run of T20Is, with dominant top-order performances against Pakistan and Sri Lanka at home allowing scant opportunities, and the weakness was again exposed during this series.
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