Smith believes Aussie captaincy will bring out his best
Steve Smith is back as Australia captain in India and the star batter is expecting the leadership change to bring out his best during the third Test in Indore.
The 33-year-old will fill in as Test skipper for the third time since Pat Cummins became Australia's red-ball captain in November 2021 when the third match of the Border-Gavaskar series gets underway at Holkar Stadium on Wednesday.
The circumstances are less than ideal, with Cummins returning home to Sydney last week to be with his seriously ill mother Maria.
Australia are also coming off two diabolical batting collapses, in defeats in Nagpur and Delhi, to blow any chance of winning a Test series in India for the first time since 2004.
Australia need to avoid a 4-0 whitewash against India to guarantee their spot in the World Test Championship final in June.
Smith said he was "angry" and "bedazzled" by his second innings dismissal when he was bowled attempting his first sweep shot of the series, setting in motion Australia's capitulation from a winning position.
But the batting maestro is excited for the challenge of again captaining overseas after leading Australia to a narrow 2-1 series loss in India in 2017.
Smith could not have batted any better in India six years ago, smashing 499 runs at an average of 71.28 along with three centuries.
"It normally brings the best out of me," Smith said of the captaincy.
"I'm excited about leading this week in Pat's absence.
"I know these conditions well, it's kind of like my second home playing over here. I've played a lot in India and I understand the intricacies of the game and what the wickets are likely to do."
In a sign of how determined Smith is, the right-hander batted for almost two hours in the nets at Indore's Holkar Stadium on Tuesday.
Smith opted not to train the day before both the first and second Tests in India, preferring to do a long session two days out from those matches instead.
Focus has also turned to Smith's degenerative back issue after he dropped a number of catches in the slips during the first two Tests.
"Every now and again I get (back) flare ups, this one has just landed a little longer than I would have liked," Smith said
"It's not really too bad, to be honest, I just probably won't bowl.
"Still working hard on my fielding, catching a lot of balls, and catching well at training.
"Sometimes that just happens in a game."
Australia won't confirm their XI until the toss on Wednesday, but star quick Mitchell Starc and allrounder Cameron Green will almost certainly play after being sidelined for two months due to respective finger injuries.