Was Steven Smith’s first ODI hundred in three years really worth the wait?

Steven Smith was easily the pick of the batsman for the Australians in the final ODI at the Chinnaswamy Stadium. The No 3 batsman looked all at ease and scored a very busy 131 off 132 balls striking 14 fours and a maximum in his knock. It’s not everyday you take a critical stance at an innings of such substance but let’s take a closer look at his knock.
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The mixup with Aaron Finch was an early setback to Smith’s innings

When Steven Smith walked out to bat at No 3 at the fall of David Warner’s wicket, A partnership between Finch and Smith was crucial for Australia’s aspirations of a big total after electing to bat first. Finch was run-out when it looked like a good partnership was building, and he was absolutely fuming at the call of his partner. With a part to play in the departure of his captain running in the back of his mind, Smith knew he had to be there for the long haul. He looked very comfortable and started building towards a good partnership along with  Marnus Labuschagne.
Marnus Labuschagne

Did Steven  Smith and Labuschagne play it too safe?

Smith was looking very good but throughout his innings he refrained from taking risks and decided to play the anchor role asking too much from Marnus Labuschagne who is still young and  finding his feet in One Day cricket. Marnus eventually succumbed to some quiet overs from Jadeja and the pacers. Whether Smith not willing to take risks led to this dismissal is a topic to debate for another day.
He did get the move on in the 46th over by Navdeep Saini where he started working some brilliant angles, but again was this move too late and considering he was out of partners and a struggling Ashton Turner with him it was very important for Smith to bat 50 overs, if Australia had to reach the 300 mark but  he holed out at the worst time possible for the Australians. Smith could have started the onslaught earlier when he had other settled batsman around him considering how important his wicket was at the time he decided to accelerate.

Steven Smith on his way to his 9th ODI hundred

Jadeja was good and had some purchase off the wicket but Smith didn’t try to score much off his bowling. They didn’t score much off Bumrah and looked like a clear plan to play him out and considering this playing out Jadeja quietly was a very poor move, and they did lose out on some important runs in the middle overs.
It’s a hundred nonetheless and he should be credited for this  innings and for looking the most comfortable Australian batsman on this tour, but he would have loved to carry on in the decider in Bangalore and would be highly disappointed that he couldn’t be there till the end.

Freelance cricket writer. Taking small strides in this giant industry. Writes at Sportskeeda and CricTracker

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