Australian Test skipper Tim Paine has rallied behind Steve Smith. The Australian skipper believes criticism only makes the star batsman perform better, and the world will see that in the upcoming Gabba Test.
Steve Smith came under heavy fire from the cricket fraternity and fans around the world when a video of him from Day 5 of the Sydney Test went viral. He was blamed for scuffing Rishabh Pant's guard marks. However, Paine and Australian coach Justin Langer had come out in Smith's support.
Talking in a pre-match press conference, Tim Paine referred to the 2019 Ashes, where Steve Smith scored 714 runs at an average of more than 110. It was the right-handed batsman's comeback tour after a year-long ban. He faced immense heckling and booing from the English crowd throughout the series.
"When he came back and performed straightaway in the Ashes, (he showed) he is mentally very strong and tough. He knows at times he is going to be criticized and he has handled that pretty well. Not only this week but since he has come back in the side. If anything, he feeds off it and his statistics speak for themselves and we'll see the best of Steve Smith again this week," said Tim Paine.
Steve Smith looked in all-sorts against the Indians in the first two Tests and recorded scores of 1, 1*, 0 and 8. However, the 31-year-old roared back to form in Sydney by notching a century in the first innings.
"I am not seeing any decline in him" - Tim Paine on Nathan Lyon
Off-spinner Nathan Lyon will play his 100th Test for Australia in Brisbane. However, the 33-year-old is yet to have a major impact on the series. His six wickets from three games are half of his opposite number, Ravichandran Ashwin's tally of 12.
Tim Paine touched upon Lyon's achievement, and attributed his fewer wickets in the ongoing Border-Gavaskar Trophy to the missed chances.
"I think he has bowled okay. In Adelaide he created heaps of chances but they didn't go to hand. I thought the same the other day. If we had caught a couple it would have been a completely different story for him," said Tim Paine.
Paine further added:
"But Nathan Lyon has played a hundred Test matches. That is not easy to do and it means you are absolutely on the top of the tree. I don't think that's changed, I don't think that will change and to see him play a 100 Test is an amazing achievement from a guy who was plucked off a roller in the Adelaide Oval. I am not seeing any decline in him. Sometimes you get wickets, sometimes you don't. Its coming out of his hand beautifully (but) Indians have played him very well."
Tim Paine and co. will have one last crack at the visitors when the final Test begins on Friday.Published 14 Jan 2021, 12:06 IST