Skipper Tim Paine on Thursday warned Steve Smith “feeds” on criticism and has been fired for the high-stakes fourth test against India, which Australia will start without injured opener Will Pucovski. Smith faced charges he tried to cheat by scraping batsman Rishabh Pant’s guard in the crease during the tense third test in Sydney, which left the series locked at 1-1. He strongly denied it and said he was shocked at the reaction, saying he was just shadow stick.
Paine, himself criticized for a horrific sledding incident during the match, said his teammate was mentally strong and determined to build on his performance as a man of the match in Sydney, where he scored 131 and 81.
“Steve is in a good state of mind,” Paine said ahead of the Gabba clash starting on Friday, a pitch where Australia have been unbeaten since 1988.
“I think we’ve seen what he’s been through the last three years… he’s mentally very strong, very tough. He knows sometimes he’s going to be criticized and he’s handled it really well.
“If anything, I think he thrives on it. His stats speak for themselves and we’ll be seeing the best of Steve Smith again this week.”
Australia will be part of the decisive clash in the series without Pucovski, who dislocated his shoulder while playing in Sydney, where he clocked an impressive first set of 62 in his debut.
It was another cruel setback for the 22-year-old, who missed the first two tests with a concussion.
Marcus Harris, who has appeared in nine tests but not since Australia retained the Ashes in England last year, will open alongside David Warner instead.
“He’s going to come in and open the stick and he can’t wait to see what he can do,” Paine said. “He’s a very good player.”
Barring late crashes, this will likely be the only change in the squad that played the third test.
Earlier this week, goalkeeper Paine apologized for his own behavior in Sydney, where he launched a verbal tirade against Indian Ravi Ashwin, was fined for dissent and abandoned three catches on the final day, Australia failed to beat India.
“I let it go under the skin, no doubt about it, I admitted it, so for me it’s about pushing myself and focusing on what I’m doing and focusing on the leadership of my team, ”he said.
“We’ve talked a lot about this game about controlling what we can control and focusing more internally on ourselves. If we do that we’ll be in a good position.”
Australia (probable): David Warner, Marcus Harris, Marnus Labuschagne, Steve Smith, Matthew Wade, Cameron Green, Tim Paine (capt), Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, Nathan Lyon, Josh Hazlewood
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