NEW DELHI: Star Australian batter Steve Smith anticipates a formidable challenge from the Indian bowling attack in the World Test Championship final, scheduled to take place from June 7 at The Oval, regardless of the combination they employ.
While Australia’s preparations in the past were primarily centered around countering Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja in India, they now have an additional concern in the form of Mohammed Siraj and Mohammed Shami.
“I think they’ve got a good mix obviously of quality seam bowlers. Shami and Siraj, probably their two main guys who have really good skills and I think the Dukes ball suits them nicely.
“And then obviously their spinners as well, who bowl really well in all conditions. So, I think they’re a good attack and yeah, we’re going to have to play well against them this week,” he said.
Smith has been part of the ODI and T20 World Cup-winning Australian teams but unlike those events, the WTC final is a one-off game in a two year cycle.
Asked if he feels the same as he did while playing the big finals in the shorter formats, he said: “I haven’t thought too much about it in that aspect. It’s obviously been a good couple of years of Test cricket and to play in a final of the World Test Championship is pretty special.
“But yeah, I don’t know, until we sort of go out there and get started, I don’t know how it’ll feel. But it’s been a good build up the last few days. We’ve had some good days training down in Beckenham and we get to have a hit at the Oval today and tomorrow.”
It is the first time that a Test has been scheduled at The Oval in June and the venue has been hosting games since 1880. The pitch wore a greenish look on Monday but the grass will be trimmed going into day one.
“Yeah, I haven’t had a look at the surface yet, so I probably can’t say too much, but you’re right, usually back into the summer it’s a bit drier. Some spin can come into play, particularly as the game goes on. So, yeah, we’ll wait and see what the surface looks like,” said Smith.
He also backed Boland to fill in nicely for Hazlewood.
“I think you’ll get what Scotty does pretty well. Hits a good length, hits the top of the stump, snips the ball around, can swing it if he wants to and he’s got great skills as well, so no doubt it’ll be a challenge if he gets the nod,” he added.
‘Slightly concerned about future of Test cricket’
Smith expressed his concerns over the future of the five-day game ahead of the World Test Championship final against India beginning on Wednesday.
The rapid growth of franchise cricket around the world has put pressure on the international schedule. The smaller nations are not playing enough Test cricket, with India, Australia and England effectively driving the longest format.
It was, though, ironical that Smith spoke about the uncertain future ahead of the biggest game in Test cricket — the WTC final.
“Yes, I am slightly concerned. But, hopefully Test Cricket still stays alive and well. I think it’s in a good place at the moment,” he said ahead of the title clash against India.
“Some of the games we’ve seen recently have been pretty amazing. So, for me as, I suppose, a traditionalist, someone that loves Test cricket, I hope it still remains at the front of all the Board’s mind and stays alive and well for some time to come.”
The Australians had a lengthy first training session here on Monday and there were enough signs that Scott Boland will play in place of injured Josh Hazlewood. All-rounder Cameron Green will be the fourth pace bowling option besides Mitchell Starc and skipper Pat Cummins.
London was witnessing sunny weather over the last week but Monday was cold and overcast through the day.
(With PTI Inputs)