26 December 2020 08:37
Watch the Boxing Day Test between Australia and India LIVE on Fox Cricket, coverage starts Saturday 9.30am AEDT! Steve Smith is in one of theworst batting slumps of his career. And India may have found the magic formula to dismissing the ICC's top ranked Test batsman, according to a retired Australian batting great. Smith has just two runs from three hits in long form cricket this summer, scoring his first duck in Test cricket since November 4 2016 onSaturday. Remarkably, he has just five zeros across his 10-year career.
Watch Australia v India Test Series Live & Ad-Break Free During Play with the Fox Cricket commentary team. New to Kayo? Get your free trial now & start streaming instantly> Ashwin sends Smith for a DUCK 0:29 Ravi Ashwin has hadSmith's number twice this series, with a sharp catch at leg slip undoing the former captain off the tweaker on Boxing Day. The slump is more than a one-off, with Smith scoring 255 runs at 28.33, with two half-centuries and four single figure scores, since his all-conquering 2019 Ashes. Smith's tactics have changed in recent years. He now has a more pronounced shuffle across his stumps, which has opened up the onside and confused opposing captains around the world. So unique is Smith's style, he would regularly flick balls from well outside off stump through square leg against England last year. There was little Joe Root could do. The MCG is a venue that has brought about plenty of success for Smith, with 908 runs at 113.5 before the current Test. He boasts four centuries and three other 50-plus scores in his seven Boxing Day appearances. But for all his success in the past, it took eight balls on Saturday for Ashwin to capture his wicket. "There's definitely been a shift from this Indian team," Michael Hussey said to foxsports.com.au after Smith was sent packing in the first session. "In the past, because Steve Smith walks across the crease so much, teams have bowled wide to him and with that they set a more off-side field and hope he's going to hit the ball through there. "But I think this Indian team have gone the other way. They know his strength is off the pads, so they've put fielders there to block up the runs but then bowled straight at the stumps, so he just has to miss one or edge one – he is human and can get something wrong – and unfortunately it has worked. READ MORE Boxing Day LIVE: Follow day one of the second Test Australia and India unite in moving tribute to Dean Jones at MCG Test How Melbourne's Christmas wish came true when it needed it most Ashwin celebrates the wicket of Smith. Photo: Quinn Rooney/Getty Images. Source: Getty Images Hussey likes the tactical adjustment from the tourists, which were on the receiving end of two white ball tons in three days earlier in the summer. "I think it is a good tactic because if he is taking all of his weight across the crease, sometimes you can fall over a little bit too much and means you're prone to LBW or your head isn't in line with the ball and you can flick one on the leg side," the Fox Cricket expert added. Last summer it was the short ball utilised by the New Zealand quicks including Neil Wagner that caused Smith issues. On multiple occasions, Smith was caught fending the ball and was captured behind the wicket on the legside, including catches on the boundary. "I'm sure he'll figure it out, he's a great problem solver and he will know what they are going to do to him," Hussey continued. Binga's beautiful Deano tribute 3:18 "He might stop walking across the crease and stand still now. He famously changed his technique between innings in the past, he might do that again to suit the tactics and situation of the opposition." Smith famously started moving back and across before the ball was delivered during an innings in Perth against England in 2013/14. He reaped immediate benefits and he has stuck with the strategy ever since. But in two straight Tests he has been exposed earlier than Justin Langer would have liked following failures from Joe Burns and Matthew Wade. His talent is undeniable and his third for runs is unquenchable. The next challenge for Smith – at least in red ball cricket – is to combat a plan designed specifically for him and tailored to his own strengths rather than weaknesses. FOLLOW ON PODCAST Brad Haddin, Mike Hussey and Tom Morris discuss India's 92 minutes of mayhem and preview the MCG Test TO LISTEN, TAP HERE OR SUBSCRIBE IN ITUNES OR SPOTIFY