Virat Kohli is considered by many as the best batsman in contemporary cricket but Australia skipper Aaron Finch says it’s his predecessor Steve Smith who is number one across all three formats. A day before Australia’s World Cup encounter against India, Finch sounded quietly confident and his opinion seemed like sending out a strong message for the opposition.
Asked what difference does Smith and David Warner’s presence make, Finch said: “When you’ve got world-class players coming back into your side, it’s unfortunate for the guys who have missed out and the guys who have played some really good one-day cricket in the past. But Steve is the best batter in the world in my opinion over all three forms of the game.”
Smith’s batting in a tough situation against West Indies was an example of how the world’s best devises plans as per situation, said the skipper. We saw Steve had a really clear plan. He got under the bouncer until he tried to play one around in the 33rd over, I think, and hit it up in the air and nearly got caught. So then he just took that out of his game again and kept ducking under them,” he said.
“So that was a really good lesson to all our batters that the best player in the world had shown courage to stick to his game plan for a long time and was successful. He probably swallowed his pride a little bit in terms of having to put a shot away that you’d look to score heavily off in a one-day game.”
In fact, Smith’s ability to change technique as per situation is something that Finch, by his own admission, does not have. He answered the question in the context of how to tackle Jasprit Bumrah. “I think all the guys are as well-prepared mentally and technically as they can be, and it’s not about ‘in tournament play like this’, it’s too quick to be tinkering with technique and things like that in my opinion. Well, it is for me anyway.
“Some guys can do it really well and do it quickly. Smith seems to change his technique every couple of balls at times, depending on what he’s facing. That’s just not a huge strength of mine, to be able to do that,” said the Australian captain.
Finch, however, accepted that tackling Kohli along with Rohit Sharma and Mahendra Singh Dhoni will be a big challenge. “At times in the past, we have probably let Virat get off to a bit of a flyer with being just a bit too straight to him or a bit too full or just letting him off the hook early, and we know once he gets into his innings, he is so hard to stop, so you can’t afford to play catch-up against great players. Same for Rohit,” he said.
Finch said even Dhoni and Shikhar Dhawan have ability to inflict damage. “You can’t put too much focus just on two players because Shikhar Dhawan has had some good success against us. Dhoni we saw, we found it tough to get him out in Australia. When we’d get India into a bit of trouble, he would dig them out of a hole and bat right to the end and bat really deep.
“Even the first two ODIs in India, he (Dhoni) was instrumental in getting them across the line in a couple of them,” Finch said in praise of the former India skipper.
The return of the destructive Warner is a huge plus along with the experience of the core group which was a part of the 2015 Australian team set-up.
“I think when you have David who is so destructive at the top of the order is great for the side and our batting lineup. But I think we’ve always believed that we’ve got a side that can win the World Cup,” said the stockily-built right-handed batsman.
It all started from the third ODI against India in Ranchi, when the team suddenly grew self-belief.
“We started this run of form or run of wins I guess from the third game in India. We still believed that we had the side then that could do it, and we feel as though this has just boosted that,” the skipper said.
(With PTI Inputs)