India not strongest sans Ishant but we’ll be watchful against Bumrah: Smith

Prolific Australian batsman Steve Smith on Thursday said that the Indian bowling attack may not be their strongest ever without Ishant Sharma but he will still have to be ‘watchful’ against Jasprit Bumrah whom most of the players in the team will face for the first time in Test cricket in the upcoming four-match series.

The Indian pace attack is likely to present a stiff challenge to the Aussies as only two of the nine batsmen in the current Test Australian squad — Tim Paine and Travis Head — have had the experience of playing both Bumrah and Mohammed Shami in a Test match.

“I don’t know if I will do anything specific but yeah (this will be the) first time I will have face him in long form cricket. But I think his skill sets won’t probably change too much. We know how he bowls. He has got a good pace. He has got that awkward action, very different to lot of people. You got to be pretty watchful all the time and he is a quality bowler,” said Smith on being asked if he has planned anything specific against Bumrah for the Test series.

“I am excited at coming up against him in this series. You like coming up against the best and he is certainly up there with them,” he added.

The 32-year-old further said that Australia will have to be at their best when facing the experienced Indian bowling attack despite the fact that the visitors would be missing Ishant and their third seamer could be a weak link. He, however, exuded confidence that the Aussies will beat India this summer.

“They are a good line-up. Pretty experienced. Shami has played a lot of cricket, Bumrah has played a reasonable amount of cricket. He is a quality bowler. Whichever spinner they use, (Ravichandran)Ashwin or (Ravindra) Jadeja or Kuldeep (Yadav), I am not sure – we’ll wait and see, but they’ve all played a fair bit of cricket now,” said Smith

“Their third quick hasn’t played as much cricket whoever they go with there. They are all good bowlers and yeah, we are going to be at our best as a batting group. This summer, we are going to beat them.

“Ishant Sharma is probably a big loss for them. He has obviously played a lot of cricket now and he is a good bowler. So yeah, maybe without him, their bowling attack may not be their strongest. I am sure they would have loved him to play,” he added.

The Australian batsman, who missed the last home series against India during the 2018-19 season as he was serving a ban for his involvement in ball-tampering, said that it was difficult to sit on the sidelines.

“I watched bits and pieces (of last series). It was difficult to obviously be sitting on the sidelines and not being able to go out there and making a difference. That was the toughest thing for me knowing that I could make a difference if I was out there,” Smith said.

“That was hard but look it is an exciting series coming up. We are playing some good cricket, India are a terrific side, they have got some unbelievable batters and have a great bowling line-up. I think we have a very good bowling line-up. I think it will make for a very exciting summer of Test cricket.”

The four-match Test series will begin with the pink-ball fixture at the Adelaide Oval from December 17.