India vs Australia: Gambhir heaps praise on Smith, says he is not far behind Virat Kohli in ODIs
Former Indian cricketer Gautam Gambhir has heaped praise on Steve Smith, saying the former Australian skipper is not far behind Virat Kohli in the One-Day Internationals (ODIs).
Smith recently struck two back-to-back centuries in the ongoing three-match ODI series between India and Australia. The hosts sealed the series by winning the opening two fixtures, courtesy of Smith, who was awarded the Player of the Match for scoring a hundred in each of the games. On both occasions, Smith reached the 100-run mark in just 62 balls and thereby registered the third fastest century in the 50-over format by an Australian.
"Steve Smith has found something against India which India hasn't found against him. Yes, he was absolutely correct when he said he has found his hands. He got his hundred in 18 overs. He came into bat at the 20th over and got his hundred in the 38th over. In 18 overs, you get your own hundred and that's probably the toughest phase to bat as well where the ball is a little older, you have got two spinners," Gambhir told ESPNCricinfo.
"This is pure class. He is not far away from Virat Kohli. We keep talking about Virat Kohli, is Virat Kohli the best ODI batter in the world ever? Smith is not that far behind. Getting a hundred in 18 overs and getting 2 back-to-back hundreds in 18 overs is no joke. Yes, Virat Kohli will always have better numbers, there is a huge difference in numbers but look at the impact Smith has had in the last 2 games. It's unbelievable!" added Gambhir in the same interview.
The Indian skipper sure is way ahead in numbers: he has amassed 11,977 runs in 250 ODIs, including 41 centuries, while Smith has scored 4,371 runs in 127 ODIs, including 11 hundreds.
Gambhir, who represented India over 200 times during his playing days, went on to warn Kohli and Co that is "going to be tough for India" if they don't find a way to unsettle Smith at the crease.
"It's going to be tough for India, even in the 3rd game and probably going forward as well. This is just the start of a long tour, if India don't find something to get Smith out, it's going to be a long, long tour for the bowlers because he has a huge appetite for runs. It's just the start now, once he goes into the Test format in this kind of form if he gets in, it's going to be trouble times for India," Gambhir added.
After the dead rubber third ODI on Wednesday, India, and Australia will lock horns in a three-match Twenty20 International (T20I) series before the Test series goes underway on Dec. 17 at the Adelaide Oval. The first Test is the pink ball game, which will be India's first-ever overseas day-night Test. The remaining three Tests will be played in Melbourne, Sydney, and Brisbane.