Australian plays key role in Toronto Nationals’ six-wicket win over Vancouver Knights in Global T20 Canada league.
Steve Smith was back on the field playing a representative match for the first time since 25 March when he led Australia to a 322-run defeat at the hands of South Africa in the Cape Town Test to slip 2-1 behind in the four-game series.
Australia went on to lose the series 3-1, and Smith has had nothing to do with the country’s cricket since then after being suspended, along with David Warner and Cameron Bancroft, for tampering with the ball during that game.
But out in the Toronto Nationals colours on Thursday 28 June, he showed signs that he wasn’t too rusty.
It was Smith’s first representative game, in the first match of the star-studded Global T20 Canada league. Batting first, Toronto’s opponents Vancouver Knights scored 227/4. In reply, Smith hit 61 and New Zealand international Anton Devcich 92* to take their team to 231/4 in 19.2 overs.
Smith’s first bit of real participation in the game, after Darren Sammy won the toss and fielded, was to catch Chris Gayle, the Vancouver opener, off Nikhil Dutta, the Canada off-spinner, at long-off. Sometime later, he dropped the other opener, Evin Lewis, who went on to score 96.
Chasing a big score, Toronto lost Hong Kong all-rounder Nizakat Khan cheaply, allowing Smith to walk in at No.3 in the very first over.
Smith, still the No.1-ranked batsman in Test cricket, started slowly but picked up the tempo to hit eight fours and a six in his 41-ball innings before being dismissed by countrymate Fawad Ahmed, the leg-spinner, who had him stumped by Chadwick Walton.
When Smith fell, Toronto were 151/3, still well off the target with 6.3 overs left. But Devcich, who played 16 limited-overs internationals between 2013 and 2016, slammed a 44-ball 92* and Sammy chipped in with a 10-ball 22* to take their team to victory.
Playing after a long gap, Smith admitted to being a little jittery. “I normally don't get real nervous before I play but if I'm being honest I was a little bit nervous today, three months off and I hadn't hit that many balls,” he said after the game.
“I had a bit of luck today, didn't feel as good as I have in the past but it's nice to score runs when you're not feeling good so hopefully there are positive signs. Chasing, you need a lot to go right and that’s a great way to start the tournament.”
Warner is also a part of the league, as a member of the Winnipeg Hawks squad. The Hawks play their first game against Montreal Tigers on Saturday.
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