Steven Smith singles out Marlon Samuels as Australia's biggest threat in the tri-series final
Australian skipper Steven Smith admitted that West Indies middle-order batsman Marlon Samuels’ superb run of form is a cause of worry for his side and has set his sights on dismissing the 35-year-old early on to boost their chances of victory in the tri-series final on Sunday.
Meanwhile, Samuels, who scored a match-winning 92 in the first group-stage encounter between the two sides at St Kitts before scoring 125 in a losing cause at the Kensington Oval, said that it was the sledging carried out by the Australian players on the field that made him more determined to score big.
Samuels has never been one to shy away from any confrontation as his confrontations with Shane Warne and the English players as recently as the World T20 final in 2016 proves. He let his infamous trademark show up once again during the ongoing tri-series, engaging in a heated exchange with Australian wicketkeeper Matthew Wade during his knock of 92.
The two-time World T20 final Man-of-the-Match winner said that he is more than happy to get into such confrontations in the future as well.
"I've been saying that over the years," he said when asked if words on the field make him more determined. "Most time I came out to bat, nobody had anything to say and I don't perform that well. But then somebody has something to say, I want to stay out there longer to see how long he can talk."
Smith is wary of the threat posed by Samuels, but unlike the West Indian, the 27-year-old is banking on his bowlers to execute the plans the Australian team management has devised for the right-handed batsman.
"Hopefully, we can just let our actions do the talking,” Smith said. "He's obviously been in pretty good nick this series, particularly against us scoring a 90 and a hundred.
"He's done pretty well so we've talked about a few things with him. He's got the capability to be dangerous as we've seen, so hopefully we'll be able to get him out early."
Smith shrugs off Pollard incident
Smith also downplayed his on-field altercation with West Indies all-rounder Kieron Pollard during his side’s 6-wicket victory against the hosts earlier this week that helped them reach the final. During the course of his knock of 78, Smith had requested Pollard to take off the white strapping tape the 29-year-old had on his bowling hand to help protect an injury he's been carrying throughout the series.
With Pollard not willing to adhere to Smith’s plea, the on-field umpires intervened and the all-rounder was allowed to retain the tape, a decision Smith says he has accepted. He added however that there was no malicious intention in his request and that it was only because he was having difficulty in spotting the ball.
"He doesn't mind a chat but that's alright, that's part of the game," Smith said of the 29-year-old Trinidadian. "That was just a little thing with the tape on his hand. I don't think he goes looking for any trouble or anything like that, it was just the way I saw it at the time.
"I didn't pick the first couple of balls up out of the hand and wanted him to take off the tape and the umpires deemed it to be OK. That's fine, get on with it. It's not like he was bowling with any great pace or anything like that so you've just got to watch the ball as closely as possible and I got through it in the end," he added.