Australia batsman Steve Smith, who guided his side to a seven-wicket victory over Pakistan in the second Twenty20 International on Tuesday, 5 November with an unbeaten 80, is determined to better his record in the shortest format of the game.
After the first T20I was washed out in Sydney, the hosts convincingly chased down 151 in the second game in Canberra with nine balls to spare and took a 1-0 lead in the three-match series. Smith was the architect of Australia's chase as he raced to his fourth fifty in T20Is, and finished on a 51-ball 80*, a knock that included 11 hits to the fence and one over it.
Smith is one of the best batsmen in the world, particularly in Tests, but his record in T20Is doesn't match his exploits in other formats. He averages just 27.48 in 35 matches, but that can be attributed to the fact that he initially was a leg-spinner and batted lower down the order. In fact, after his move up the order in late 2015, Smith averages 48.57 at No.3.
"If you look at my batting record in T20 internationals, it's not crash hot," Smith said. "I guess you have to bear in mind ... [early in my career] I was batting No.8 or 9, coming in and slogging, facing half a dozen balls tops. It's never easy, so it's going to affect your record at some point.
"I don't doubt my ability. I know the tempos of the game. I've played a lot of [T20] cricket now. I may not be as strong as some of the other guys, but I use placement and timing."
Nicknamed 'Mr. Fix it' in the Australian side, the 30-year-old takes his problem-solving role very seriously. "If you're chasing, you weigh up the situation and what you need and what [rate] you need to go at, which bowlers you want to target and just work out the math in your head, and that's chasing," Smith explained.
I may not be as strong as some of the other guys but I use placement and timing.
"Batting first you have to sum up conditions, and how the wicket is playing, what you think a good score is, and who is in the opposition ... all those sorts of things. I've played a lot of cricket now, I'm pretty experienced, and my role in this team is to fix it if the top don't come off."
Smith's team-mates know his value. Left-arm spinner Ashton Agar, who witnessed Smith's innings in Canberra from the dug-out, was in awe of him. "Consistently, guys are turning to each other going, 'how the hell does he do that? How does he play that shot?'," Agar told cricket.com.au. "He's totally obsessed with batting and people call him crazy or special or whatever it may be, but he gets the job done every single time and that's when you're a great player."
Australia and Pakistan play the third and final T20I on Friday in Perth.
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