Following his ton on Day 2, Steve Smith has revealed that it was a conscious decision on his behalf to be more positive facing Ravichandran Ashwin in the Sydney Test. While appreciating his own knock, Smith admitted that he had to scrap pretty hard for his runs in the ongoing third Test.
Before the Sydney Test, Steve Smith was under the pump for his below-par performance in the first two Tests, in Adelaide and Melbourne. With just 10 runs in four innings, at an average of 3.33 - Smith’s vulnerability against Ravichandran Ashwin was well documented. However, on the first two days of the Sydney encounter, Smith’s aggressive approach against Ashwin stood-out.
The right-hander not just stepped and unsettled Ashwin, his batting certainly was a blueprint for the others in the dressing room to adapt against the off-spinner. Smith’s 226-ball 131 propelled the hosts to 338 after their first innings and incidentally with it was his eighth Test hundred against India, the joint-most for a player. Following the end of day’s play, Smith revealed that he was more positive against Ashwin, which was key in handling him on the wicket in Sydney.
"I decided to be a bit more positive. Early on I hit him over his head, sort of just put a bit of pressure on him to bowl where I wanted him to bowl. It was a concerted effort to do that. And I was happy with the way I played him," Smith told CA.
"Not really [there were no tactical changes]. Just be a bit faster on my feet, in particular against the spin, a bit quicker on my feet. Put pressure on [him], come down the wicket sometimes, play off the backfoot a bit better, but against the quicks nothing different," he added.
While the outside noise had Smith unperturbed, this time he was well aware of the talks after his twin failures in the Test series. The right-hander’s hundred was his first in nearly 16 months since his freak series against England.
"No, not really. I read a lot of things as I think I've said numerous times and plenty of people said I was out of form so it was nice to come back into form, if that's what you want to call it,"
"It was only about three or four weeks I think I scored two hundreds at the SCG. It kind of just makes me laugh sometimes when people say that kind of thing, I missed out in the first two Test matches obviously and come back today and scored some runs to help put us in a decent position,” he added.
India made a steady start to their pursuit of Australia’s total, the loss of two wickets towards the end of the day shifted the game open, with India trailing Australia by 242 runs.
"I think it's a decent total. It would have been nice to score a few more, you always (prefer) many more. It's a bit up and down the wicket, we've seen a couple balls have kicked up off a length, a couple have shot low. I think the boys bowled pretty well this evening and if we continue to bowl really disciplined tomorrow I think we're going to get some opportunities,” he concluded.