Looking to go up 2-0 on lively pitch: Steve Smith
Australia's new Test captain Steve Smith is excited about the prospect of playing India on a lively Gabba pitch in the second cricket Test starting tomorrow and said he wants his team to drive the advantage to go up 2-0 in the four-match series.
Brisbane: Australia's new Test captain Steve Smith is excited about the prospect of playing India on a lively Gabba pitch in the second cricket Test starting tomorrow and said he wants his team to drive the advantage to go up 2-0 in the four-match series.
India had lost the opening Test at Adelaide by 48 runs last Saturday.
"We're all excited about coming into this second Test and trying to go two-nil up in this series," said Smith. "After the wickets we've played on in Test cricket, at the Adelaide Oval and the two matches in the UAE (against Pakistan), it's exciting for our fast bowlers to finally have something that's going to have some liveliness to it.
"That's part of the reason Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood have been included in the team. It is a traditionally fast and bouncy wicket and it looks no different out there for this Test match," he added, announcing the Australian playing eleven for the match.
While Peter Siddle has been dropped, Ryan Harris has been rested as he was not a 100 per cent fit owing to a short turn-around time. Also, Smith will be batting at number four in place of the injured Michael Clarke with Shaun Marsh slotting in at number five. It has been a promotion that Smith has been looking forward to for a while.
"I've had a chat with a couple of the senior players and the coach about it. I just thought that in taking over the captaincy and a bit of extra responsibility that I would step up to number four and get the job done there. I don't think there's a big difference between batting four and five," said Smith, who is Australia's 45th Test captain.
Young fast bowler Josh Hazlewood is set to make his debut in a new-look Australian pace attack, which will also include recalled left-arm pacer Mitchell Starc.
"I've watched Josh very closely over the last couple of years at New South Wales and he impresses me every time. I think he's only getting better and better. This pitch should suit him perfectly," Smith said.
"He's very skillful for his age and I'm looking forward to seeing him zing a few through and bowl with that extra bit of pace and get that extra bit of bounce as well. It's very exciting for Josh to make his debut tomorrow."
Talking about the other bowlers, Smith said, "Ryan Harris pulled up a little bit stiff and sore from Adelaide. Coach Darren Lehmann has always said if our bowlers aren't 100 per cent fit going into the match then we won't be playing them.
"In regards to the inclusion of Mitchell Starc, we just wanted to play a bowler with a bit of extra pace and bounce.
Mitchell went back and bowled really well for NSW in the last couple of Shield games.
"It's very disappointing for Peter Siddle who has been a terrific bowler over a long period of time. He's certainly not out of the loop. He's still in and around the team and hopefully he'll get another game soon," he added.
Smith will lead Australia for the first time in Brisbane after Clarke was ruled out for a long-term given his right hamstring injury in the first Test. The new captain will immediately have his hands full as he deals with not only a competitive opposition but also one that will not back down during heated moments, as witnessed in Adelaide.
"We always play an aggressive and positive brand of cricket. There's a line there and I think the fines (given out to the players by ICC after Adelaide Test) said they overstepped the line. We always want to play in the right spirit. We're going to continue to play aggressive and hopefully no one oversteps the line in the next couple of games," Smith said.
Asked if it has sunk in yet that he will be leading Australia in a Test match tomorrow, Smith said: "The night before last I didn't sleep too well. I was so excited about the call that I received from Rodney Marsh. Last night I was pretty tired actually.
"Tonight I'll get a good chance to think about the next couple of days and think of a few plans for some of the Indian batsmen and the way we approach their bowlers. I'm just looking forward to getting out there tomorrow and getting stuck into it," Smith signed off.