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3 Indian bowlers who'll be the biggest threat to Steve Smith in the Border Gavaskar Trophy 2023

#1 Ravichandran Ashwin #2 Mohammed Siraj #3 Axar Patel

By Sathish PrakashPublished 2 months ago 4 min read

Australian batter Steve Smith is one of the biggest threats to India and their illustrious record on home soil. The Aussies are currently the No.1-ranked Test side in the world and the former skipper has played a huge rise in the team's rise over the last couple of years.

He faced a slight slump in form by his usual lofty standards but came roaring back into prime form with a stunning home season. Apart from red-ball cricket, he is staking his claim as an all-format player with a promising stint in the Big Bash League (BBL).

For Australia to win their first series in India since 2004, it is evident that Smith has a pivotal role to play. Arguably the best player in the Australian contingent when it comes to facing spin bowling, he holds the aces for the side against a solid Indian bowling unit.

Speaking of the hosts' bowling attack, despite the lingering absence of Jasprit Bumrah, they pose a formidable threat, especially the troika of spinners that are expected to take the field.

Let's take a look at three bowlers who will be the biggest threat to Smith in the upcoming four-match Test series.

#1 Ravichandran Ashwin

Smith has a good record against the senior bowler's web when compared to other batters, but has been susceptible to the spin web as of late.

During the last series Down Under, Ravichandran Ashwin got the better of the ace batter on multiple occasions. He has dismissed him thrice on home soil as well on their trips to India in 2013 and 2017.

While he still maintains a healthy average against the spinner, Smith, being a credible batter against spin bowling, has admitted that Ashwin has had a grip over him. The former skipper said in an interview during the previous Border-Gavaskar Trophy:

“I’ve sort of let him dictate terms and that’s something I’ve probably never let any spinner do in my career. I’ve sort of taken it to them, been a bit more aggressive and made them change things.”

Ashwin's form with the red ball has never waned and tackling him in conditions tailormade for spin is bound to be Smith's biggest challenge on the tour. He is already preparing against the senior spinner with the help of tailormade pitches and facing bowlers who boast a similar action.

#2 Mohammed Siraj

The right-arm pacer has been in impeccable form of late with the white ball, rising to No.1 in the ODI rankings for bowlers in the process. However, the fact of the matter remains that the longest format is his strongest suit, and that speaks volumes.

He has been a stunning exponent of the scrambled seam and, more importantly, has re-developed his outswinger. While conditions would not be exactly ideal for a bowler like Siraj to operate, he is still expected to be a threat with the new and the old ball.

The rather abrasive surfaces in India could also bring reverse swing into the equation, something that Siraj is not unfamiliar with. The Australian batter lost his wicket to the pacer in the last innings he played against them, in the famous fourth Test at The Gabba in Brisbane.

#3 Axar Patel

The ace all-rounder made an unprecedented historic start to his Test career. Often regarded only as a backup to Ravindra Jadeja, he is now arguably toe-to-toe with his senior compatriot in terms of bowling.

He already has an array of accomplished batters on his wicket list, having claimed Joe Root's scalp three times during England's tour of India in 2021.

Axar Patel's varying release points from a height, inducing bounce could prove to be tricky to face in subcontinent conditions. While he is not a huge turner of the ball on most occasions, his ability to get the ball to hold its line as well as come in along with the arm is testing, to say the least.Smith is yet to face Axar in his career and the mystery element will be on show. The left-arm spinner will hope to challenge both edges of the bat to induce a dismissal.

The fact that the Australian camp is viewing Axar as a threat and reviewing footage to deal with him is a testament to the spinner's potency.

How will Steve Smith fare in the Border-Gavaskar series? Let us know what you think.

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Sathish Prakash

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