MUMBAI: Pace legend Glenn McGrath has lauded the Indian bowlers for not allowing Steve Smith to get set in the ongoing series but feels the star Australian batsman will be a lot tougher to bowl to once he manages to get a start.
Smith, after scoring back-to-back hundreds in the ODIs against India, has managed only 10 runs in the first two Tests of the four-match series.
“It is pretty interesting bowling plan to Steve Smith that has worked so far. England tried it during the Ashes but it didn’t work as well and then you had New Zealand with Neil Wagner bowl exceptionally well,” McGrath said at a conference call.
“The Indians have looked to bowl straight to Smith with a leg gully in place, and it’s worked so far. With a guy like Steve Smith, the fact that he hasn’t got set.”
Smith was dismissed for 0 and 8 in the Melbourne Test after scores of 1 and 1 not out in the series opener at Adelaide.
“Once he gets set and is into his innings, he has got the timing, is seeing the ball and has got the pace of the pitch, he goes on to make big scores.
“The fact that India have knocked him over cheaply in all three innings has been a massive bonus and that’s where they bowled really well. I feel once he gets to 20 or 30, he will become a lot tougher to bowl to,” said McGrath.
India off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin has made Smith his bunny and McGrath said that has been the “big battle” in the series.
“It is going to be interesting, Ashwin has bowled incredibly well this series, he is doing well and they haven’t come up with an answer against him. Steve Smith has got out a couple of times, so I think that has been the big battle.
“The unusual thing with Steve Smith not having an impact in this series to date.
“Especially the way he started in one-dayers, he came out after the IPL, said he has found his hands, but that worked for him in two matches, he scored 100s in each game, maybe coming back to Sydney Cricket Ground he might find his hands again, but that is going to be the big battle,” the pacer said.
He also thought that Australia would dominate after the opening Test when they crushed India but credited the visitors for making a stupendous comeback.
“After the first Test, the way the Australian team bowled in that second innings and bowled India out for 36 and went on to win that match, I thought Australia might dominate for the rest of the series…
“…and especially when Virat Kohli was coming home, but the way India bounced back, Ajinkya Rahane how he stepped up when he had a chance to captain, India played well and went on to win the Test,” he signed off.