Kuldeep is dif­fi­cult to pick, says Smith

Smith has been a key mem­ber of the bat­ting unit and has been hugely con­sis­tent since tak­ing over as cap­tain. In 41 matches at the helm in ODIs, he has 1,740 runs at an av­er­age of 51.18 with five hun­dreds and 10 fifties

The Free Press Journal - - SPORTS -

Wary of the threat posed by Kuldeep Ya­dav, Aus­tralian cap­tain Steve Smith on Saturday said the In­dian lef­t­arm wrist spin­ner is dif­fi­cult to pick and his side has put in ex­tra ef­fort at the nets to pre­pare for him.

Kuldeep took four wick­ets on his Test de­but against Aus­tralia on a pace-friendly Dharam­sala track ear­lier this year. The vis­i­tors have got a sim­i­lar type of bowler - KK Jiyas -- at the nets to be ready for him. Jiyas is a for­mer IPL team­mate of Aus­tralian bats­man Travis Head -- the fran­chise be­ing Delhi Dare­dev­ils.

"He is a guy Sri (team con­sul­tant Srid­ha­ran Sri­ram) has or­gan­ised to come down and bowl. They have got Kuldeep Ya­dav in their squad and he is likely to play. There is a chance to train against some­one like that. There aren't too many in the world," Smith said ahead of the open­ing one-dayer.

"A few of the guys played against him in the IPL and he is a good young tal­ent and can be dif­fi­cult to pick at times. Kuldeep is some­one who you have to watch a lit­tle bit closely. Hope­fully we can put him un­der pres­sure early in his spell and try and take him for as many as we can," he said. There is talk that the se­ries could turn out to be a run feast, but Smith said he would wait to take a look at the pitches be­fore as­sum­ing any­thing. "We saw that the last time we came here in 2013 it was a run-fest where 350 was around par. It's dif­fi­cult to say. I think it's about sum­ming things up quickly at ev­ery ground. I couldn't tell you if it is go­ing to be a run fest. It depends on the pitches," he said.

Asked if a lot de­pended on him as a bats­man, he said, "I think it's im­por­tant for some­one in the top four to go on and make a big score. I think we have the guys to do that. It's im­por­tant in any coun­try. We saw that the last time we came here in 2013 it was a run-fest where 350 was around par."

The team is blessed with a num­ber of all-rounders, but the cap­tain said the line-up would de­pend on the con­di­tions. "We have got a spin­ning all-rounder, we've got all- rounders that take pace off the ball and things like that. We have got a few dif­fer­ent op­tions but we will go in with what we think is best for the con­di­tions. "We're not go­ing to name our team to­day (on Saturday). We're go­ing to have a look again on Sun­day and see what we think is the best. There is a bit of weather around, might be a bit of rain around as well. Gives us a chance to have a look at that and then we will be able to name our XI for," he said.

De­spite In­dia miss­ing opener Shikhar Dhawan as he sought a break to at­tend to his ail­ing wife, Smith said the hosts had a strong top six or seven. "He has gone to Aus­tralia. I think they still have got a very strong bat­ting line-up whether KL Rahul opens or Ajinkya Ra­hane does. I am not sure but we are ready for both.”

He also said Travis Head had been ear­marked to bat at num­ber four, in­sist­ing that the ab­sence of Finch didn't change things. "Noth­ing re­ally changes. I'll tell you Travis will prob­a­bly bat at four. I won't give too much away other than that. There's a good chance he'll be fill­ing the No. 4 spot," the Aussie skip­per said.

About Vi­rat Kohli run­ning away in the ODI cen­turies race and his take on the In­di­ans' scor­ing big tons, Smith said, "I'm not sure. I think In­dia play a lot more ODI cricket than we do. He is a very good player. "I am not wor­ried about per­sonal ac­co­lades. I am here to try and win a se­ries. The In­dian team has a very good top seven and all guys are ca­pa­ble of scor­ing big runs. Our bowlers have to be on the top of their game to keep them quiet.”

On the sig­nif­i­cance of the se­ries lead­ing up to the World Cup in Eng­land in 2019, Smith said, "We have about 30 ODI games be­fore the World Cup. For us it is about try­ing to find the right group of play­ers to fill all slots." "Con­di­tions are ob­vi­ously slightly dif­fer­ent to what they will be in Eng­land. But I think it is a good op­por­tu­nity to put their names up there and hope­fully win some games for Aus­tralia."

Aus­tralian cricket cap­tain Steven Smith smiles dur­ing a train­ing ses­sion in Chen­nai on Saturday

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