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Captaincy not under threat – Smith


MELBOURNE — Australia cricket skipper Steve Smith yesterday dismissed suggestions that his captaincy was under threat after a string of disappointing performances by the once all-conquering side.

Smith’s men were recently tested in a two-match test series against low-ranked Bangladesh that ended 1-1, after going down 2-1 to India in March.

Their form in the 50-over-game also seems to have taken a sharp dip, with the team failing to make it to the semifinal of the Champions Trophy in England early this year.

And currently the team is looking to level the five-one-day international (ODI) series after losing the opener to India on Sunday despite a flying start.

Former captain Michael Clarke, who is part of the TV commentary team for the current series, on Tuesday said Smith’s captaincy was under the scanner although his batting had been outstanding all through.

“I don’t think so. I’m not in a bad place with my captaincy,” Smith told reporters when asked to comment on Clarke’s remark.

“Obviously results haven’t been the way we would have liked and that’s something we are trying to rectify,” he said ahead of the second match in Kolkata today.

“It was a disappointing start to the series the other day (but) we’ve got the other game tomorrow to turn things around.”
Australia had India reeling at 87-5 in Chennai before Hardik Pandya struck back with a blazing fifty. The spinners then ensured an easy win for the hosts in the rain-hit tie.

The tourists finished at 137-9 in 21 overs while chasing a revised target of 164.

“Obviously, the other day it was more like a T20 game for us, especially while we were batting,” Smith said.

“I think if we had 50 overs, the guys would have had a chance to get into their groove and play with the right tempo.

“(But) we still believe in these guys. We think they’ve got a lot of talent and we’ve got a team here that can hopefully challenge India in the next couple of games,” he added.

Australia, once called the Invincibles for their domination of all rivals, won the 2015 World Cup but have since struggled to make a mark.

The upcoming ODI will be Smith’s 100th match since he made his debut in 2010 as a legspinner before making his mark as one of the best batsmen in world cricket.

“I’ve been batting at No 3 now for a while now. I had to find the right tempo for the game, whether it’s hitting boundaries or finding the right time to hit a right boundary.

“You learn as you play. It’s pretty exciting to play my 100th game,” the 28-year-old said.

Smith, who has a test average of just under 60, has accumulated 3 188 runs in 99 ODIs with the help of eight centuries — SuperSport

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