You know Steven Smith is in ridiculously good form when he rolls over in the crease and dances around nonchalantly while playing his shots. In Sydney in the two ODIs against India so far, Smith has appeared at his very best, posing ominous signs for the tour ahead for India.
Nothing perhaps signified this better than the 40th over of the Australian innings on Sunday at the SCG. Smith, on 75 by then, was up against Jasprit Bumrah who was into his seventh over in the game.
The first ball was just outside off-stump and on a good length. Smith waited on the ball and caressed it late behind point for a stunning boundary. Next was another slower variation from Bumrah and Smith deftly guided it past the third man to collect another boundary. The fifth ball was roughly in the same area as the other two, but this time Smith moved across and flicked it behind square for a boundary.
They say the best batsmen in the world have two options for every delivery bowled. In that over, Smith displayed he had more than two options sometimes for the same delivery. The Australian is a class act when it comes to accumulating runs, but what separates Smith from the rest of the top guns in world cricket right now is his impeccable temperament.'
When in the zone, Smith is near impossible to dismiss, a quality that we haven't seen in even the greatest of batsmen. England were clueless in the Ashes last year when Smith went into that zone after returning from his concussion.
Most teams have no idea when Smith gets into the thick of things and does his thing abnormally easily. They plan on bowling to his legs, but then he is outside the leg-stump driving them or outside the off-stump flicking them. Sometimes he is on all fours scooping them over fine-leg.
Such is the nature of his unorthodox, yet mighty effective batting that there's no one area you can focus on when bowling to Smith because he never really is in one position, yet when facing the ball, he is still as a statue and engrossed in watching the ball.
Someone on social media commented that while Smith is a good runner between the wickets, it's his running inside the crease that makes for interesting viewing. Smith is literally all over the crease when in that zone.
And in Sydney, after his second 62-ball ton in the series, it seems like India's challenge Down Under has multiplied manifold. Dismissing most good batsmen requires precision, planning and good execution. With Smith, it also needs a tinge of luck. More often than not, he is the master of his own undoing, but only because there's few in the world capable of taking him down. If his form is anything to go by, the Indians can expect a rather long tour this time around.
Feature image courtesy: AFP / David Gray