Aus­tralia will strive to hit greater heights

Per­for­mances in In­dia im­press, but the hunger is there for more suc­cess as board places faith in cap­tain Smith

The National - News - Sport - - PREMIERLEAGUE -

Aus­tralia have done them­selves proud with their spir­ited fight in In­dia but must con­tinue to im­prove to be­come the No 1 side across all for­mats, the coun­try’s cricket board said yes­ter­day.

Last year, Aus­tralia suf­fered a 3-0 white­wash in Sri Lanka be­fore Steve Smith’s men were beaten at home in the first two Tests by South Africa.

An over­hauled side gained a con­so­la­tion win against the Proteas in a day-nighter at Ade­laide Oval to lose the se­ries 2-1 and then ham­mered vis­it­ing Pak­istan 3-0.

As they headed off for the four­match se­ries in In­dia many, in­clud­ing for­mer In­dia Test off-spin­ner Harbhajan Singh, pre­dicted a re­peat of the 4-0 white­wash they suf­fered in 2013.

Smith’s side, how­ever, won the se­ries opener in Pune be­fore los­ing from a strong po­si­tion in Ban­ga­lore and ek­ing out a draw in Ranchi to set up a win­ner­takes-all de­cider in Dharamshala.

A sec­ond-in­nings slump then helped In­dia to an eight-wicket win for a 2-1 se­ries tri­umph on Tues­day, but Aus­tralia’s ef­forts earned them wide­spread praise.

“As the team ar­rives home over the next two days, they will find that all of Aus­tralia is im­mensely proud of their ef­forts,” Cricket Aus­tralia chair­man David Peever said in a state­ment.

“Some gave them lit­tle chance of test­ing the world’s No 1 team, but in­stead showed re­silience, adapt­abil­ity and a de­ter­mi­na­tion to over­come the dif­fi­cul­ties they have ex­pe­ri­enced in re­cent years in such con­di­tions.”

With the se­ries loss, Aus­tralia will fin­ish the sea­son ranked No 3 be­hind In­dia and South Africa in Tests.

“We as­pire to be No 1 in all for­mats, so while the team’s ef­forts in In­dia, and across the sum­mer fol­low­ing the dis­ap­point­ment of the first two Tests against South Africa, rep­re­sent a sig­nif­i­cant im­prove­ment, we all know that we must con­tinue to learn and de­velop our skills,” Peever said.

“We want to win ma­jor tro­phies, like the Ashes and the Bor­der-Gavaskar, not just at home but over­seas as well.”

Aus­tralia’s 333-run vic­tory in the se­ries opener in Pune was their first in In­dia since 2004 and also halted the hosts’ un­beaten run of 19 Tests.

Smith scored a cen­tury in that match to set up the win and also fin­ished as the high­est run-get­ter in the se­ries with 499 runs, in­clud­ing two more hun­dreds.

“There were many fine in­di­vid­ual per­for­mances, but none bet­ter than those of the cap­tain,” Peever said.

“Steve showed yet again what an out­stand­ing leader he is be­com­ing, and his hon­esty and gra­cious com­ments at the end demon­strated the qual­i­ties that Aus­tralians ex­pect from their Test cap­tain.”

The hard-fought se­ries also ended with plenty of ac­ri­mony on the field with In­dia cap­tain Vi­rat Kohli declar­ing that his friend­ship with Aus­tralia’s crick­eters was over.

Kohli had crit­i­cised coun­ter­part Smith, who ac­knowl­edged he had a “brain fade” in the sec­ond Test in Ban­ga­lore when he ges­tured to the dress­ing room seek­ing guid­ance on whether to re­view an um­pir­ing de­ci­sion.

It needed a meet­ing be­tween the two cricket boards to calm things down be­fore the third Test in Ranchi.

“It was a tough se­ries, as we ex­pected and in­deed wel­come from our In­dian hosts,” Peever said.

“Cricket at this level is highly com­pet­i­tive, and it is in­cum­bent on all in­volved, play­ers and ad­min­is­tra­tors, to hon­our the pro­to­cols and stan­dards of be­hav­iour that un­der­pin the spirit of cricket.”

There were many fine in­di­vid­ual per­for­mances, but none bet­ter than those of the cap­tain David Peever Cricket Aus­tralia chair­man on Steve Smith

Prakash Singh / AFP

Steve Smith, right, led by ex­am­ple for Aus­tralia with the bat, top-scor­ing with 499 runs in the se­ries.

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