Adelaide, December 10
India’s nemesis Steve Smith feels that Australian team’s batting depth would be hugely tested in absence of injured opener David Warner in the first Test in Adelaide, starting December 17.
The hosts will likely have a new look opening combination in Joe Burns and Marcus Harris following injuries to Warner (groin) and in-form young gun Will Pucovski (concussion).
“Our depth is obviously going to be tested with Davey (Warner) out and few potentially new players coming in. It will test us out no doubt against a good Indian outfit,” Smith said here in a virtual news conference.
“They beat us out here last time and they’re a very good side. It’s gonna be a great series and whoever’s up there and whoever’s in the team… hopefully we will do our job and can have a successful summer,” said Smith.
The star Australia batsman rated the Indian bowling attack highly even though he felt that it’s not the “strongest” without senior pro Ishant Sharma, who has been ruled out of the four-match Test series because of a side strain he sustained during the IPL.
“They are a good (bowling) line-up. They’re pretty experienced now… Mohammad Shami has played a lot of cricket, Jasprit Bumrah has played a reasonable amount of cricket and a quality bowler.
“In the spin department, whichever spinner they use be it Ashwin, Jadeja or Kuldeep, they’ve all played a fair bit of cricket now.
“The quicks perhaps haven’t played quite as much, whoever they go with them but they’re all good bowlers. We’re gonna have to be at our best as a batting group this summer, if we’re gonna beat them.”
On Ishant’s absence, he said: “Ishant Sharma is probably a big loss for them at the start, if he’s not available… He’s obviously played a lot of cricket. Maybe without him, it may not be the strongest. I’m sure they would like him to play.”
The series will see Smith’s face-off with Indian pace spearhead Bumrah for the first time in longer formats and he said the key against his awkward action was to be watchful all the time.
“I’m not doing anything specific. I think his skill set won’t probably change too much. We know how he bowls. He’s got a good pace.
“He’s got that awkward action, very different to a lot of people. So you’ve got to be pretty watchful all the time,” he said.
Suspended for his alleged role in the ball tampering scandal, the former Aussie captain missed India’s last Test series that the Virat Kohli-led side won 2-1 to make it a first in 72 years.
“I watched it in bits and pieces. Yeah, it was difficult to be sitting on the sidelines and not being able to go out there and make a difference.
“That was the toughest thing for me, knowing that I probably could make a difference out there,” said Smith.
Indian skipper Virat Kohli will take paternity leave after the Pink Ball Test to be with his actor wife Anushka Sharma who is expecting their first child in January.
Asked whether it would be a big advantage for the Aussies, Smith said it’s a big loss for India but he credited Kohli for the decision.
“No doubt it’s a big loss for India. Virat is a world class player. But look, you have got to give some credit to him.
“I know how much he would love to have played here but he’s also a human being, and he’s got a life outside of cricket and a family that’s starting. So credit to him for wanting to be there for the birth of his first child.
“We know how much he loves playing here in Australia, how good he is. But like I said, a lot of credit goes to him for wanting to go back there.”
This will be the first time India will play a Day/Night Test abroad and Smith said it would be a great spectacle.
“The atmosphere certainly is right up there. It’s one of the most beautiful stadiums around the world. It’s a great place to play cricket, particularly day-night cricket. Just the atmosphere and the lights… Everything’s just outstanding so it’s a great spectacle of the pink ball.”
Smith considers Adelaide Oval to be one of his happy hunting grounds.
“It’s a place I’ve really enjoyed playing and got some fond memories of Adelaide. I don’t know what the crowd capacity will be, but there’s always great support here and I’m looking forward to getting out there next week,” he said.
The Border-Gavaskar series gets underway in Adelaide from December 17. PTI