World Test Championship

‘What the hell am I doing?’ - Steve Smith recollects thoughts on disappointing dismissal

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Steve Smith, who will lead Australia in the third Test against India in Pat Cummins’ absence, reflected on the learnings acquired after defeats in the first two Tests.

Australia, the top-ranked side in the MRF Tyres ICC Test Rankings as well as in the ongoing  ICC World Test Championship 2023 points table, have had a tough time on the ongoing India tour, with comprehensive defeats in the first two Tests.

At the heart of their struggles has been the underperforming batting efforts, none as disappointing as the second innings collapse in the second Test in Delhi, where they stumbled from 85/2 to 113 all-out.

The collapse began with Steve Smith’s dismissal, who was trapped leg-before by Ravichandran Ashwin while attempting an extravagant sweep, a stroke that brought about the downfall of quite a few Australia batters later in the hour.

And Smith, the second-ranked batter in the MRF Tyres ICC Test Rankings currently, has expressed his disappointment at the dismissal.

"I've played, what, 95 Test matches (94) and I don't think there's been too many times I've walked off the field and I've gone, ‘what the hell am I doing?’" Smith told reporters on Tuesday, February 28.

"I was pretty angry. There hasn't been too many times in my career where I've actually come off and just been bedazzled by what I've done. It wasn't my finest moment.

"Certainly something to learn from, I'm still learning as well. It wasn't the way I wanted to play, particularly when I had the field set for all of us – they had the field out.”

Smith admitted that the visitors stumbled due to a rush in their approach, something he looks to address in the remaining two Tests.

"We probably just rushed things a little bit and it's something we'll talk about …when we've got them on the ropes, we can slow things down. We don't have to play at such a high tempo and risky tempo. Because we had them where we wanted them, we had men out and the ability to get off strike. We just rushed it.

“We've got to learn to adapt a little bit better."

Having led Australia to 20 wins from 36 Tests as captain to date, Smith is set to take over the reins for the third Test in Indore, beginning Wednesday, March 1, with regular skipper Pat Cummins having flown back home with personal reasons.

The 33-year-old boasts an exemplary batting record as captain, with 3793 runs at 67.73 with 15 hundreds, three of which came on his last Test trip to India in 2017.

Encouraged by his success in the past, Smith is hopeful that the leadership role can help regain his form with the bat, with him having registered scores of 37, 25*, 0 and 9 in the series thus far.

"It normally brings the best out of me," he said of the captaincy. "I'm excited about leading this week in Pat's absence.

"I know these conditions well. It's kind of like my second home playing over here, I've played a lot in India, I understand the intricacies of the game and what the wickets are likely to do. I'm looking forward to it."

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