India v Australia, World T20 2016, Group 2, Mohali March 27, 2016

'Let ourselves down in middle overs' - Smith


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'It just wasn't our day' - Steven Smith

As the Australia team disbands and the players go their separate ways - some to join the IPL, others to rest and prepare for the next campaign - Steven Smith was left to reflect on the repeated failings of his side in a disappointing World T20 campaign, the only major prize in the game that has proved to be elusive.

There was, of course, praise for Virat Kohli's brilliant chase - an innings that would have led to victory over better sides - but Smith pointed the finger squarely at Australia's batting through the middle overs, as he has done throughout the tournament, as the key impediment to T20 success.

After Usman Khawaja and Aaron Finch blasted their way through the Powerplay, putting on a 54-run stand in 4.1 overs, Australia struggled on the slowing pitch. It was a consistent theme of their campaign.

"That was a pretty serious innings," Smith said of Kohli's unbeaten 82. "I thought we were in a pretty good position at one point there with them needing about two a ball. I thought 160 was about par on that wicket. It just took a seriously unbelievable innings under pressure from Virat Kohli to get his team over the line.

"We probably did let ourselves down in the middle overs again. It's one area particularly in these conditions that we haven't done so well at. It's something that we've worked really hard on so we probably let ourselves down a little bit there, losing a few wickets in clumps and not being able to get that partnership together to get probably just above par to 170 or so.

"But I think all the players will learn a lot from this World Cup, playing in these conditions again, it's very valuable and hopefully we can continue to learn and get better.

"The wicket was a little bit slow and the ball got chewed up pretty quick so it was quite soft, although it didn't look too soft when Virat was hitting it. But it was tough to bat in those middle overs - I thought they timed their run chase really well in the end, they were running lots of twos and hitting the fielders in the outfield and putting pressure on. That's probably where the game sort of turned. They were able to get a lot of twos and put us under pressure."

Australia had juggled and tinkered with the makeup of their bowling attack and their batting order both in their lead up matches and during the World T20, but Smith maintained he had no issues with his side's preparation or selection.

"I strongly believed in the 15 guys we had here to do the job in these conditions," Smith said. "I think we let ourselves down against New Zealand. We probably should have won that game. To lose that game by eight [runs] was quite shattering. And we were always chasing our tail from there.

"We had to win every game we played and in Twenty20 cricket that's quite hard. It's quite a fickle game and all it takes is one player going off like tonight.

"I think we had the right mix," he added. "I think it was just some of our execution. The middle overs is one part of our game that we've been trying to work on and we know that once we get that right then we're a very dangerous side.

"I guess, for us, it's about making sure we find a way to play those spinners in the middle overs, getting off strike, not chewing up too many dot balls and just waiting for a ball to hit to the boundary. It's tough to do in these conditions, it's very foreign to us but we've still got to find a way and find a way to be successful as individuals and it's up to each individual to do it differently. We all bat differently, it's just up to us to find a way to do it successfully."

Melinda Farrell is a presenter with ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Ashok on March 29, 2016, 15:43 GMT

    Extremely gracious comments from Smith. Which ever team lost, it was tragic because both deserved to be in the Semi's. It was a well balanced & powerful Australian team but short of one more spinner may be. Even the solo spinner bowled only 2 excellent overs for 11 runs. That was Smith's only fault in not extending him to full 4 overs. But Virat Kohli playing the way he did, was like a Man on a Mission- 007! He was determined to win & produced an innings which will go down in the history if not the "Best ever but certainly #1 right now"!. When any batsman is playing like Kohli, the bowlers have no chance. I can say Sehwag is the other guy who could tear any bowling & certainly Gary Sobers. Kohli easily put up the greatest "One-Man Batting" show to carry India to win. Whilst the Aussies compiled 54 in first 4 overs. Kohli & Dhoni countered with 67 in last 5.1 overs ! That is awesome & no wonder that beat even the Wizard of OZ! I can only say bad Luck Australia.

  • John on March 29, 2016, 12:45 GMT

    Good to see the Aussies (players, supporters and media) accepting the umpiring error without rancour. That's the spirit.

  • John on March 29, 2016, 12:12 GMT

    Amazing innings from Kohli, quite breathtaking.

  •   Prasanna Srinivasan on March 28, 2016, 23:43 GMT

    Kohli played a good innings but it was made to look great by smith's poor captaincy and field placings , bangladesh of all teams had a great field for kohli and nullified him, not allowing zampa to complete his quota , poor bowling from faulkner - he just keeps bowling length balls at a slower pace from back of the hand. Did not try short balls , slower short balls and yorkers ( shane watson bowled a lot better than faulkner ) , poor batting from aussies by not taking enough singles and twos , if few of this were taken care , aus would have won easily. ( atleast smith could have placed more fielders on offside and asked faulkner to bowl full and wide to stop the rot , worth a try rather than bowling the same rubbish)

  • Harry on March 28, 2016, 21:54 GMT

    Smith is not captaincy material. Give it to Warner and see the results. Starc was sorely missed. But it was Kohli magic that made the difference!

  • Jay on March 28, 2016, 20:10 GMT

    I think the AUS bowlers bowled exceptionally well. When you have a team like India 4 or 5 down for less than a 100 runs, then you know your team is bowling well. Having said that, Kohli simply was magnificent. There is not much any team could have done while King Kohli was going haywire. He's simply a legend. We can only sit back and admire the man's genius. Lastly, AUS cannot keep giving the same excuse that they need to do well in the 'middle overs'. After nearly 8 IPL seasons featuring Aussies in pretty much all the franchises, you would expect them to give a much account of themselves in Sub-Continental conditions. Unlike India, whose players don't play in the BBL, yet they could beat AUS 3-0 down under.

  •   Saran Kumar Arivalagan on March 28, 2016, 19:33 GMT

    Too many changes in the batting order, warner, watto, finch etc one sure about their batting order and never settled. Australia is the only side who did experiment on war field. Steven smith is never captain material, some one who can think should lead australia

  • Brijesh on March 28, 2016, 18:27 GMT

    This is one of the reasons I hate watching Aus play in Asia. Smith is aware that his spinners are key to picking wickets in the middle overs, and yet, uses him like Dhoni uses Yuvi - someone who's bowling to get a few overs done. What makes it worse is the fact that Zampa has been their bowler of the tournament - that sweet Afridi dismissal! How can you not back a spinner like that? Yet, I'm not surprised. The recent mentality in the Aussie set up is to disrespect spinners and their art. After the era of Warne, the line of thinking is - why use spin when you can pound the cherry into the batsman's ribs? Using bowling attacks with 4 pacers and 1 spinner shows this attitude. On the other extreme, we have Asian attacks with 2 pacers and 3 spinners, explaining our attitude to pace. The balance is missing in most games where, 3 pacers and 2 spinners are supposed to be the norm. It is an increasingly polarized cricket world.

  • Dev Alok on March 28, 2016, 17:26 GMT

    @Divinetouch, it will not happen. An Aussie mouthing off against umpire is just being competitive. These rules about proper behavior are only for other teams.

  • Chetan on March 28, 2016, 15:54 GMT

    @the_quicke when a man like Gayle / Kohli is on a role, the only way to stop him hitting you is to stop bowling to him.... unless you are Marshall, Holding, Killed OR Waqar / Wasim......on a role yourself. others - release the ball

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