Sydney: Steve Smith is hoping his first century in one-day international cricket is just the start of a new lease of life as a big-scoring top order batsman for Australia in the 50-over game.
The right-hander`s 101 in Sharjah on Tuesday was the backbone of Australia`s 255 for eight, which set up a comprehensive 93-run victory in the opening match of the series against Pakistan.
Gifted the chance to play at number three by injuries to his skipper Michael Clarke and Shane Watson, Smith grasped his opportunity with both hands to put his face firmly in the frame for the Australia squad for next year`s World Cup.
With a high score of 46 in his previous one-day internationals, Smith had never before secured even a half-century for his country in the format but said milestones had not been on his mind in his 39th ODI.
"I wasn`t really bothered about that, for me it was all about batting for as long as possible and making a big score," the 25-year-old told reporters.
"I`ve always said I like batting at number three, I wanted to make the most of my opportunity and hopefully this is just the start and there`s plenty more big scores down the track."
Smith`s international career has been all about transformation, starting as it did with his one-day debut as a spin-bowling all rounder against West Indies in Melbourne in 2010.
While his ability to play against spin - a quality in short supply in the ranks of Australia`s batsmen - has secured him a regular place in the test side over the last year, he has always been a fringe player in the 50-over side.
That may change now after the maturity he displayed in nearly three hours at the crease in stifling conditions in the United Arab Emirates.
"It was very hot, I don`t think I`ve changed my gloves as much in my whole career, let alone just today," he quipped.
"Today it was just about just trying to get off strike and putting the bad ball away, and it worked well."
Australia and New Zealand host the World Cup from Feb 14-March 29 next year.