Smith mulls approach for Ranchi’s ‘never seen before’ mud pitch

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    Skipper Steve Smith won’t be afraid to adopt a “French cricket” mindset in Australia’s third Test against India, should the Ranchi pitch demand it.

    Smith failed to fire with the bat in Australia’s 75-run loss in Bangalore, where the hosts levelled the four-Test series.

    The 27-year-old is comfortably the side’s best batsman and has a knack of scoring freely.

    But his first innings in Bangalore was an uncharacteristic struggle, with the right-hander scoring eight off 52 balls.

    Smith says India pacemen Ishant Sharma and Umesh Yadav and a pitch playing plenty of tricks forced him to take a defensive approach.

    “It was just so difficult to score, against the quicks in particular,” Smith said.

    “I was always afraid of the one shooting low like in the second innings (when Smith was trapped lbw by an unplayable delivery that hardly bounced).

    “It was about trying to almost play French cricket. If the ball was on my stumps, try and cover that as well as I could.

    “It (not scoring) was a credit to the Indian quicks, I thought they bowled very well. Their line and lengths were spectacular really throughout the whole match.”

    The surface in Ranchi is expected to be consistently slow and low, without the variable bounce on offer in the second Test.

    “It will shoot quite low …I’ve never seen a wicket that’s looked quite as dark as that one is. It looks like there’s mud sort of rolled together,” Smith said.

    “Guys just have to adapt and play according to what the wicket entails.

    “It’s about summing up the best way to play and try and get as many runs as we can to build the first innings.”

    The dry deck won’t suit Pat Cummins, who is set to play his first Test since 2001, but Smith backed the express paceman to trouble India’s batsmen.

    “He’s got some good variations. Watching him bowl yesterday, he bowled these cutters on the wicket and they were actually ragging,” Smith said.

    “He’s got some good skills … the extra pace is always nice.”

    Smith added every member of the attack would need to step up and fill he void left by injured spearhead Mitchell Starc, who has returned home with a foot injury.

    “When you lose someone of the class and calibre of Mitchell Starc, it’s always difficult,” he said.

    “But we’re confident the rest of the bowling group can do the job to take 20 wickets.”

    © AAP 2017

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