Smith to bat three on turner

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Steve Smith has revealed that he is likely to come in at number three for Australia on a dry and spin-friendly strip in Pune.

The captain feels it is important to break up a sequence of left-handers in the top four with the other candidates for the number three slot being southpaws Shaun Marsh and Usman Khawaja.

The skipper told a pre-match press conference: “It depends on what make-up of team we go with.

“Probably a good chance I’ll be at three if we do have the three left-handers, just to break it up a bit.

“Good chance I will be at three but it’ll depend on the make-up of the team.”

Smith has coped admirably when asked to bat at three scoring his career high 215 against England at Lord’s from first drop but prefers batting one slot further down under normal circumstances.

India does not represent normal for Australia though and they will have to adapt to conditions quickly on a dry pitch in Pune.

Smith said of the wicket: “I haven’t really seen a wicket like that before a Test match, so I think it is going to take a lot of spin and potentially some up-and-down movement for the fast bowlers as well.

“It looks a bit different to the T20 wickets we have played on here, where the ball generally goes through, they are really nice wickets.

“Yesterday it looked pretty dry, quite sort of crusty.

“I think it will take spin from ball one.

“There are a couple of divots out of the wicket as well.”

Smith wouldn’t give any indication at all of the match XI he simply said that everyone was capable of doing a job for them

The skipper said: “We’ve obviously got a few options there.

“We’ve thrown up everyone, I think everyone is capable of doing a job and everyone is different so it’s a big decision as to whether we play one fast bowler, or two quicks and a spin bowling allrounder, or three straight spinners.

“We’ll have another look (at the pitch) today and I don’t think the wicket is going to change a great deal from what we saw overnight.

“The groundsman said he wasn’t going to put any more water on it so it’s going to be incredibly dry.

“We sort of know what we were likely to expect wicket-wise, we have got people here to cover all bases.

“The selectors and I had a conversation yesterday, we will have another look today and from there make a decision which way to go.”

Smith was wary of ace India spinner Ravichandran Ashwin who has shot to the top of the ICC rankings for bowlers after a stunning 2016.

The Baggy Green captain said: “I know (Ashwin) is a quality bowler.

“He’s got great skills.

“He presents different seam positions for what the wicket entails.

“He’s a class bowler and he’s very accurate the way he bowls, and he hits the right areas consistently.

“So guys have plans in place to play him, now it’s about being able to implement those plans under pressure in the heat of the moment.

“Hopefully we can counteract what he brings at us.”

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