Steven Smith's 'brain-fade' has Australia on the ropes on final day
"I was looking at our boys. So shouldn't have done that. A bit of brain fade. Peter Handscomb told me to look out there (dressing room)” – Steven Smith
Brain fade is a phrase that would hog much of the headlines in the build-up to the third Test between India and Australia after what transpired in Bengaluru during the previous contest. Smith, who appeared to consult with his dressing room before making a DRS decision, described it as a brain fade, and not much more.
He was absolutely vilified in the media and his reputation was torn to shreds for that incident.
In Ranchi, during the third Test, he was determined to send a message to his critics. The Australian captain had put in a defiant performance to lead his side. First, he scored one of his best Test knocks ever, an unbeaten 178 to help his side to get to 451. On the field, he picked up a good catch to dismiss Virat Kohli.
And finally, on the last day of the Test, he walked out to bat with a Test match to save. The Indians had their tails up after taking 2 wickets in just 7.2 overs the previous day. With a lead of 152 runs, the hosts had scoreboard pressure to back the Aussies into a corner.
But the first 90 minutes of play on day 5 went against the script for India. Smith, along with 20-year-old Matt Renshaw had no trouble negating the threat posed by Indian bowlers Jadeja, Umesh Yadav and Ishant Sharma.
With less than half-an-hour to go for lunch, Renshaw fell to a fired-up Ishant Sharma after a tense over. The veteran came up trumps after trapping the youngster right in front.
Smith had thus far played a chanceless knock. He left everything outside off stump, played with a straight back and offered his pads to anything that pitched outside leg.
Jadeja came on to bowl the 30th over.
On the first ball of the over, Jaddu bowled a slightly fast delivery just outside leg stump, in the rough created by the bowlers throughout the match. Smith, as he had done countless times in the past, offered his pads to play the delivery.
Except, this time, he got nowhere near it, the ball pitched and spun sharply and cannoned into middle and off, dealing a dagger blow to the Australians. There appeared not much wrong with the Aussie skipper’s decision to play that shot, except he just didn’t get close enough to the delivery.
At first sight, it was a rather embarrassing dismissal for Smith. This wasn’t a delivery he should have ever left. It pitched too close to leg stump, yet he decided to shoulder arms and the ball hit the stumps. For something who had batted so well during the entire Test, it was an embarrassing way to go.
During the replays, it appeared that he tried to move his knee to the delivery, almost like his foot got stuck in the pitch and couldn’t move it anymore.
If there was one phrase that best described the dismissal, it has to be ‘brain fade’.
Smith will be hoping his compatriots can save the Test match, or else, he will reflect on his wicket as the one that swung the momentum towards India.