Despite roping in the 'Ashwin-impersonator', Australia not 'overthinking' the Indian spinner: Smith
Steve Smith may have been keen to play out the Ashwin-impersonator - Baroda-based off-spinner Mahesh Pithiya - a lot at the Australian nets in the build-up to the Border-Gavaskar Trophy, but the modern-day legend says it doesn't mean his team have been "overthinking" the matter of facing the world's best.
Australia may have worked tirelessly at improving their spin game during the training sessions in the lead-up to the first Test in Nagpur, starting February 9, but their best player says there is a conscious effort not to think of the prospect of taking on Ashwin too much.
Speaking to the press two days before the much-anticipated first Test, Smith, in fact, suggested they have the "tools" to counter their biggest nemesis on Indian shores, who has taken his 50 wickets at just 23.16 apiece on Australia's last two BGT trips to his den.
Steve Smith on the R Ashwin threat
"There has been many off-spinners we played and Mahesh is one of them. He bowls a similar style (to that) of Ashwin. We are not overthinking things. Ash is a quality bowler but we have the tools in our kit bag to counter that," Smith said in the pre-match press conference on Tuesday (February 7).
Smith can take heart from the fact that his previous sojourns to India haven't quite tamed the beast of a player that he has been for the oppositions all over the globe. Nailing perhaps the toughest Test match assignment, he has scored 660 runs in 12 previous innings in India at an average of 60 with three centuries on the last trip back in early 2017.
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Heading into the game, the pitch in Nagpur has been a topic of discussion with images doing the rounds, wherein the curators are seen selectively watering the surface and leaving it dry outside the left-hander's off-stump. The Indian idea based on the fact that the tourists carry many left-handers in their line-up.
Smith, however, said they can't overread the track and let it play into the heads too much. "Pretty dry, particularly one end. I think it will take a bit of spin, particularly the left-arm spinner taking it into our left-handers. There’s a section there that’s quite dry," he said.
"Other than that, I can’t really get a good gauge on it. I don’t think there will be a heap of bounce in the wicket, I think it will be quite skiddy for the seamers and maybe a bit of up-and-down movement as the game goes on."
"The cracks felt quite loose. I’m not entirely sure – we’ll wait and see. Smith seemed pretty happy with the preparation. We had a few good sessions in Bangalore and now here as well. The boys are shaping up well. I think it will be a bit skiddy, slow but not entirely sure," Smith added.