Australia batsman Steve Smith on Tuesday said he had changed his natural game at the 2020 Indian Premier League (IPL) edition, trying to do power-hitting instead of working out gaps, which affected his rhythm and form in the T20 tournament played in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
Smith, representing the Rajasthan Royals, scored just 311 runs in 14 games, with the help of three half-centuries as his team finished bottom of the points table.
Looking ahead to the white-ball series against India which begins in three days’ time, the Australian batsman said he would now like to play his natural game against the Men in Blue.
“For me in white-ball cricket, playing my game, the way I do it is the way forward. I think in IPL, I got caught up with and tried to be a bit too powerful. (That is) Not quite my game. There are players in the world that can get sixes at will and I am not probably one of those. For me, it is about hitting proper cricket shots and hitting the gaps, and manipulating the field at will. I probably went away from it in the IPL,” Smith told reporters.
“I know that is the best way I play. So keeping my thoughts clear and hitting the ball in the areas I want to hit them. I still think there is a need for a player like that in the short format of the game,” he added while admitting that he was disappointed with his batting and was not consistent enough.
But the 31-year-old said that he has rediscovered his touch, which he had lost three-four months back, over the past couple of days.
“Theoretically, it is a simple thing. But it is (about) getting that feel and look, the bat behind my toe the right way. The way my hands come up on the bat. It is hard to explain. But it hadn’t been right until two days ago when I found a little something and everything just clicked – it changes where you meet the ball and hit the ball in certain places. I had a big smile on my face after training the other day.
“I walked past Andrew McDonald and I said I found them again. It has taken me longer than usual. I don’t know why but (probably because) I pretty much didn’t bat for four months at the start of Covid. Maybe a bit longer. It has taken me a bit longer. I don’t know what has taken it back. (But) I am glad I have found something. I am excited about that,” said Smith while explaining the rhythm he has managed to get back.
The prolific Australian batter also recalled a similar struggle he had a couple of years back ahead of the Ashes.
“The first Shield game (then), I didn’t quite have my rhythm and just the way I was holding the bat wasn’t quite right. So I remember in a game against Western Australia, something sort of clicked, halfway through that innings I reckon. I was good to go, I reckon. I had a similar moment the other day,” he explained.
Smith back then scored heavily in the Ashes series that followed. He would hope he does the same again against a side that he has done so well in the past. Australia and India are set to compete in three ODIs, three T20Is, and four Test matches beginning Friday.