'Terrific side': Steve Smith names favourites for T20 World Cup

·4-min read
Seen here, Aussie cricketer Steve Smith talks with the media.
Steve Smith has talked up India ahead of their opening T20 World Cup match. Pic: Getty

Steve Smith has lauded India as favourites for the upcoming Twenty20 World Cup in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Oman, after declaring Virat Kohli's men have got "all bases covered" when it comes to the make up of the side.

Smith's side were outgunned by India in their final warm-up match before their first-up clash against South Africa on Saturday night in the first phase of the Super 12s format.

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The Aussie led the way with the bat, scoring 57 runs off 48 balls to help his side reach 5-152 - having slumped to 3-11 in Dubai.

India cruised to an eight-wicket win in 17.5 overs, delivering a wake-up call with bat and ball for Australia.

It was a resounding reminder why many regard the Indians as favourites to lift the trophy, in an assessment Smith firmly agrees with.

Smith, who was part of Delhi Capitals' squad in the second phase of the IPL but only played two games in that stretch, says India's expertise in the conditions and the recent form of many of their IPL stars, make them a formidable adversary for any team.

"They're a terrific side, they've got all bases covered and some serious match-winners," Smith said.

"They've all been playing in these conditions the last couple of months with the IPL. So they'll be used to that.

"Obviously never easy when you're three down in the first three overs, you have to rebuild for a period there. I thought we did that pretty well, the partnerships with Maxi (Glenn Maxwell) and Stoin (Marcus Stoinis) were important."

The match did little to allay concerns over the batting form of David Warner, with the under-fire opener suffering another cheap dismissal.

Warner followed a golden duck against New Zealand in the first warm-up match with a seven-ball one against India.

He has now played four innings since April with scores of 0, 2, 0 and 1 - the two other innings coming in the IPL.

Concerns over Aussie batting and bowling

However, just as concerning for the Aussies is the fact that Ashton Agar's dismissal of KL Rahul was their only wicket against India, with Rohit Sharma retiring on 60 to provide batting practice for teammates.

The rare sight of Virat Kohli rolling his arm over confirmed this was very much a tune-up, with seven Indians and eight Australians given a chance to bowl.

Stoinis finished 41 not out, striking Australia's only six of the match and later delivering two overs to prove he has fully recovered from a hamstring injury.

Maxwell scored 37, steadying in a 61-run stand with Smith after David Warner (one), Mitch Marsh (golden duck) and Aaron Finch (eight) departed in a terrible start for Australia.

The form of Warner is a particular worry; he managed a first-ball duck against New Zealand in Australia's other warm-up match after a horror IPL campaign in which he was dropped and deposed as captain of Sunrisers Hyderabad.

Warner logged scores of zero and two in what will almost certainly be his final games for the IPL franchise, meaning he has spent scant time at the crease since the IPL was first shut down in April.

Pictured here, David Warner getting out cheaply in Australia's T20 World Cup warm-up loss to India.
David Warner (pictured left) got out cheaply again in Australia's T20 World Cup warm-up loss to India. (Images: T20 World Cup)

Pat Cummins, another star who enters this event with limited match practice, finished with figures of 0-33 from four overs in his first match since April.

Smith's knock added further weight to his case for selection, noting the recent IPL stint had been beneficial despite the fact he was so often overlooked by Delhi coach Ricky Ponting.

"I feel like I've been hitting the ball really well," Smith said.

"I haven't played too many games in the IPL but I've spent a lot of time in the nets, working on things and getting used to conditions.

"I feel like I'm in a good place."

The Proteas scored 22 off the final over to beat Pakistan by six wickets, underlining their potency in the warm-up game, while Afghanistan produced a major upset in a 56-run shellacking of defending champions West Indies.

with AAP

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