Steven Smith up for the challenge of India's spin
Australia's spinner-turned-batsman says he's hoping to contribute with bat and ball over the next few days in the Mohali Test.
For Smith, who initially started his international career as a leg-spinner before switching roles to a middle order batsman
It turned out to be a frustrating day for both India and Australia in Mohali on Thursday, as they shuttled a couple of times between the team hotel and stadium before play was finally abandoned because of rain.
Australia's Steven Smith revealed that on days like these, when the players are restricted to the dressing room, they resort to indoor games.
"Just being introduced to a game called 'Bananagrams'... it's a bit like Scrabble. Ed Cowan is the one who has stored those games and he introduced me to it today. It was a little bit of fun in the last one hour or so in the dressing room today," Smith said, after rain washed out the opening day in the third Test.
Image: Steven Smith bowls
Photographs: Hamish Blair/Getty Images
'I have always been more of a batsman than I was a bowler'
For Smith, who initially started his international career as a leg-spinner before switching roles to a middle order batsman, this is a second coming in Test cricket.
He made his Test debut against Pakistan at Lord's in 2010, but only played four more matches before being dropped. He took just three wickets, at an average of 73.33, while scoring 259 runs, at an average of 28.77.
"Probably I have always been more of a batsman than I was a bowler. Getting picked in different teams for Australia is always very special.
"The first two Tests I played, I played as a specialist bowler. It's a bit different now to come in as a No 5 specialist batter. That's something that I have worked on in the last couple of years really hard. I am excited about coming in this Test as a batter and hopefully will get a few in the middle," he said.
Image: Australia's Steven Smith bats during a practice session
Photographs: Dinuka Liyanawatte/Reuters
'I am up for the challenge'
Smith says he has worked hard on his batting technique to become a regular member of Australia's Test team and is hoping it will pay off in the Mohali match.
"Yeah, I think I have improved a lot in the last 12-18 months. Changed a couple of things in technique that have made me a bit more stable at the crease, more balanced and, I guess, more selective as well.
"I feel as though I am tightening my technique quite a bit. I feel like I am playing spin really well on this trip in the nets and previously as well. I am looking forward to going out there in the middle and having a crack and hopefully I will be successful," he said.
The right-hander, who will bat at No. 5 in the third Test, says his focus during the practice sessions is on countering spin.
"I have been working hard on couple of different methods, I guess. In the nets I have played spin a lot in last couple of weeks. I have been working different methods and ways to controlling the play against spin, and hopefully the methods I have come up with will be successful in these conditions.
"It's always going to be tough playing against the quality of those spinners in these conditions, but I feel as if I am up for the challenge. Hopefully I will come up with some big runs," he added.
Image: Australia's batsman Steven Smith
Photographs: Dinuka Liyanawatte/Reuters
'I had to do hell of a lot of bowling in the last year or two'
Smith is also hoping to contribute with the ball in Mohali, where the pitch is expected to offer the spinners a bit of assistance.
"I had to do hell of a lot of bowling in the last year or two. It's still something that I work on hard in the nets. This game, obviously, the wicket look pretty dry, so there could a few chances to reel out a few leggies in the second innings if there's a rough. I have been working hard and hopefully it will come off well."
Smith was also part of the Australian team that played in Mohali in 2010, coming on as a substitute fielder towards the end, as India edged home by a narrow margin of one wicket in a thrilling finish.
He also has experience in these conditions having played for Pune Warriors in the Indian Premier League last season.
Image: Australia's Steven Smith
Photographs: Philip Brown/Reuters
'I play my best cricket when my mind is clearer'
The 23-year-old says international players nowadays rarely have time on hand to adjust to various formats because of the cramped calendar, but that is something they have to take in their stride.
"I think it is part and parcel of the game these days, playing one format one day and other format the next day. I guess the players have to adapt as quickly as possible.
"I think with the sheer weight of games these days that happens; it doesn't take too long to adjust. I think it just takes a couple of nets sessions to bring things back. It's becoming easier and easier every time you do it. It's something you have to get used to these days," he said.
He also revealed that Australia, who have had four players axed for this match for indiscipline, is taking the help of sports psychologist Michael Lloyd to boost the morale of the squad.
"We had a chat with him, he is very good at his job. Just about the mental side of things, trying to prepare and making sure you have got a clear mind.
"I play my best cricket when my mind is clearer. I don't have too much thought running through, premeditating or doing different things and that is the main thing I just have to get out of," he said.
Image: Steven Smith
Photographs: Julian Herbert/Getty Images)