DHARAMSALA, India, (Reuters) – Skipper Steve Smith believes clear thinking and efficient execution set his team apart from the Australian sides in the past who tried and failed in their bid to win a test series in India.
A draw in the fourth and final test against India would be enough for Smith and his men to retain the Border-Gavaskar Trophy, having triumphed at home in the 2014-15 season.
With the series level at 1-1, the 27-year-old, however, has set his eyes on a victory which would give Australia their first series win since 2004 in India, which former captain Steve Waugh termed the ‘final frontier’.
“We’ve worked very hard, guys have been pretty clear in the way they’ve wanted to play and the game plans they’ve been able to formulate,” Smith told reporters.
“We’ve talked a lot for many years, coming over to these conditions, and we’ve said the right things and we’ve got plans in place, but once we’ve got out in the middle, we haven’t been able to put them together.
“Really pleasing to be at one-all. The stage is really set now for a fantastic fourth test match and the guys are really excited by that.”
Smith revealed his team’s ambitious bid to replicate the success of the Adam Gilchrist-led side has received encouragement from Simon Katich, who was part of the victorious 2004 side.
“Simon Katich sent me an email overnight and said it is great what we guys have done over here so far through the series and asked to continue that here and wished good luck for Dharamsala,” Smith said.
Australia landed as the underdogs in the series against world number one India, who were riding the crest of a 19-test unbeaten run, but are now in a strong position to clinch the series.
“I’m not really bothered if we are the favourites or underdogs to be honest with you,” Smith said at the Himachal PradeshCricket Association Stadium, in India’s Himalayan foothills, which hosts its first test match from Saturday.
“I’m not worried about the end result of the match. I’m just focussed on controlling what we can and take it one ball at a time and the process.”
The touring team also met exiled Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama in Dharamsala, an experience, Smith hoped, would help him sleep better.
“I asked him a question about sleep, how he could help me,” Smith said.
“We rubbed our noses together, (he) gave me some blessing. So hopefully it will help me with my sleep over the next five days.”