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Monday, July 16, 2018

Rising Pune Supergiant skipper Steve Smith: The Ghost who walks

Steve Smith rarely ever gets into a tangle - despite his stance - but bowlers keep persisting, and get thrashed.

Written by Sriram Veera | Mumbai | Updated: April 8, 2017 6:29:21 pm
steve smith, smith-match winning innings, indian premier league, ipl, ipl 1o, rising pune supergiants, Mitch McClenaghan, Hardik Pandya, Jasprit Bumrah, mumbai indians, indian cricket, Steve Smith remained unbeaten against Mumbai Indians in RPS’ first game.

Until 2013 Steve Smith, the ghost who walks these days, never budged an inch from his middle-stump guard. The Ashes Test at the WACA in Perth changed it. The English bowlers were hurling short stuff at him which triggered an idea in him: let me start walking. “I started a prelim movement, it was like everything sort of just clicked into place.” That walk changed his batting career, and how — even now, the bowlers all around the world don’t know where to bowl at him. The same chaotic theme continued on Thursday night in Bangalore.

Understandably, his walk across the stumps makes bowlers think they can bowl straight at him. Surely, he would miss one, and get trapped lbw or get bowled? He rarely ever gets into a tangle but they keep persisting, and get thrashed.

He kept walking to the off and twirled, dragged, crashed, swung, and heaved the balls to the leg side – 62 of his 84 runs came on the leg side on Thursday.No wonder he has nailed that movement as the single-most important change in his caree:. “Probably walking about a foot across my stumps”.

Mitch McClenaghan had a plan

Or so he thought. The left hander first tried bowling outside off stump. Smith walked across, leaned, fetched it from outside off and smashed it to wide long-on boundary. Chastened, McClenaghan tried bowling at the stumps.
Poor fellow even tried different lenghts – full and short. On both occasions, the ball was thrown back from the on-side square boundary.

Pandya was best, Bumrah good

He had nine balls at Smith, from 7th over to 16th, and he repeatedly hit a line well outside off. Smith kept walking in an effort to drag to the leg side but couldn’t. He scored 7 runs in 9 balls, with five singles. The others didn’t learn from Pandya, though.

Jasprit Bumrah was an exception. Bumrah’s plan was to bowl outside off, and if possible get it away from Smith from there. He even hit the right lengths – neither too full nor short and it showed in the results. Smith hit just one boundary off the 11 balls he faced from Bumrah – a late cut wide of third man and that too off the last ball that Bumrah bowled at Smith.

It showed that only proper bowling skills and a definite plan could probably stop the Pune captain.

Clueless Pollard gets found out

At his pace, without much guile, Pollard was always going to find it tough to get going against Smith. Early on in the piece, Smith gave him a teaser of stuff that was going to unfold later.

He picked a length ball from well outside off and thumped it over long-on. Pollard straightened the line to the stumps, and was smashed to the leg-side boundary.

The theme was to repeat in the last over of the game. Smith pounced on a slower one outside off and walloped it over long-on. Pollard then followed it with a length delivery on the stumps, and Smith put it away for the match-winning hit.

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