Steve Smith is expecting batting-friendly conditions at The Oval for the World Test Championship (WTC) final but feels they could face India-like conditions as the game goes on.
The venue offers one of the best batting conditions in the UK with true pace and bounce. India are expected to play their frontline spinners Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja in their bid to make the most of the conditions.
“The Oval can present itself with some spin occasionally, particularly as the game wears on so we could face some sort of similarities to what we had in India at certain stages of the game,” Australia’s batting mainstay Smith told cricket.com.au ahead of the final beginning next Wednesday.
“But The Oval is a wonderful place to play cricket in. Lightning fast outfield, the square goes whole way across the ground so it is a nice place to bat when you get in... should be an absolute cracker.”
Earlier in the year, Australia lost the Test series in India 1-2 though their spin play improved as the series progressed. Smith led in the third Test in Indore which the visitors won.
“The WTC is a great initiative. It gives every game we play a lot of relevance and for us to have qualified on top and face India in the final is incredibly exciting,” Smith, one among the Australian batters who played county cricket as part of preparations for the WTC final and the subsequent Ashes, added.
Also getting ready for the matches ahead is young Australia off-spinner Todd Murphy. Having studied Ravichandran Ashwin from close quarters on his maiden tour to India, he wants to add the Indian tweaker’s carrom ball to his bag of tricks.
“I am still working on that (carrom ball) but I am still a long way off being able to do it the way Ravi Ashwin can,” the 22-year-old Murphy, who claimed 14 wickets at an average of 25.51 in India, was quoted as saying by cricket.com.au.
“It is simple in a way, and yet so difficult. It is just about being confident that you can execute it. I’d love to be able to add that myself one day.”
Although his prime focus will be to get his stock ball right, as part of his analysis, Murphy would freeze-frame Ashwin’s point of delivery to understand the subtle variations that the Indian ace brought to his bowling.
“I was really interested in watching that sort of stuff and get a close-up look of his hand and wrist position, just to see how each ball was coming out and if it was behaving differently.
“In those conditions, his skillsets are as good as anyone and it was amazing to just watch the subtle variations he is able to implement.”