Steven Smith's tactical genius earns Australia a wicket on way to his first away Test win as captain
Australia won the 1st Test against New Zealand by an innings and 52 runs, but it was a piece of tactical genius by captain Steve Smith that has drawn the most attention on Day 4, the final day of the Test.
Australia needed to take six wickets to finish the match off, and the fashion in which the first wicket of the day was scalped left many in awe of the mental acumen of Australia’s captain. The win was Smith’s first away Test win as captain, and his current record as Test captain is this – W D D W D W W W D W.
In only the seventh over in the morning, Smith, who was standing at first slip, gave his bowler an idea that reaped the wicket of Corey Anderson. Smith asked his bowler to change the angle of his delivery.
Marsh obliged his captain, pitching the ball on the leg stump from over the wicket and getting the delivery to straighten. Anderson, who expected the ball to go away from him, tried to fetch the ball and missed. The ball struck his pad and he was given lbw, despite going for a review.
Anderson fell for a 22-ball duck, and the tone was set for the innings defeat that was impending. Smith’s first away win as Test captain ended up as a victory of a huge margin.
The Anderson wicket was only one instance in the match of Smith’s sharp mind. His use of Mitchell Marsh in the last hour of the third day also got Brendon McCullum’s wicket, while his use of Nathan Lyon was commendable as well.
Smith averages 65 with the bat since taking over captaincy reins, but it is clear that he leads the team with more than just example.
The triumph means Smith's side can afford to draw the second Test starting in Christchurch on February 20 as any series victory, whether it be by a 1-0 or 2-0 margin, will take Australia past India to the summit of the Test rankings.