Australia were the first side to advance to the World Test Championship final for the 2021–23 cycle thanks to a win against India in the third Test in Indore. Australia finished with a points percentage of 69.2, but due to a difference in decimal points, they were unable to go to the first World Tennis Championship final. This allowed New Zealand, who finished in second place and went on to win the tournament, to advance.
Australia's ability to make it to the WTC final, according to Steve Smith, who led the team in the third Test when Pat Cummins had to fly back home for personal reasons, was a testament to the kind of cricket they have played in recent years.
"Qualifying for our first ICC World Test Championship Final is extremely satisfying. We've had this as a goal for a long time. The standard of cricket we have played over the past two years is largely due to the players and staff. "Finishing as World Test Champions would be a great reward for everyone," Smith stated to the ICC.
"Being able to play the WTC final before the Ashes will give our fans a great opportunity to extend their stay at The Oval and watch us play. He added, "We still have one Test to play here in India, where we hope to keep this momentum going."
Australia fought back hard in Indore after two subpar performances in the Border-Gavaskar Trophy to defeat India by a convincing 9-wicket margin and close the series gap to 2-1. Smith acknowledged that the visitors benefited from the 10-day break between the second and third Tests.
Australia lost the Border-Gavaskar Trophy, which they last held prior to the 2017 series in India, after a six-wicket defeat in New Delhi that included a dramatic batting collapse in the second innings.
In the press conference that followed the match on Friday, March 3, Smith stated, "The break came a good time for us." We were clearly dissatisfied with the way things ended, especially in the final game, when we didn't take advantage of our chances and realized we couldn't actually win the series. Some of us have always had that on our bucket lists. The guys need to trust themselves with what they're trying to do and just try to do it for longer in order for them to regroup. We have discussed it, and the way we carried it out this week was very pleasing. It's about taking the outcome out of the equation. If you stick with our methods long enough, we'll usually get the results we want.
Australia lost the first-innings half-centurion Usman Khawaja early, with no runs on the board, when they needed 76 runs to win on the final day. But Travis Head and Marnus Labuschagne made sure that nothing else got hurt. Even though they were constantly put to the test by R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja, they made it through the first 45 minutes of play safely. However, they went on the offensive following a ball change, reducing India's offensive potency.
Smith explained, "The message at the beginning of the day was to take the scoreboard out of play and pretend like it was day one." "We know if we are batting at lunch then getting 75 runs was more likely." The guys did a good job, and when Travis got his chance after getting in and they changed the ball, it looked like it wasn't responding the same way. Heady put his foot down and played to Travis' areas, and we got over the line.
"They are pretty hard to come by, and for us to win this game, especially after losing the toss and fielding first, demonstrates our confidence in ourselves and the talent in this group. One way to put it is "we screwed up" in Delhi. We missed an opportunity there, but we had a good break and a good preparation before coming here. It was just about getting our mental states right. We've done a lot of work. It was just about trusting ourselves, trusting our methods, playing the game for longer periods of time, having faith that we'll succeed, and taking the result out of play. We know that this group has a lot of good players, so if we are trusting ourselves and playing according to our methods for a long time.
Australia responded with an easy score of 188 for 4, having bowled India out for 109 in the first innings. However, on Thursday morning, R Ashwin and Umesh Yadav ripped through Australia's batting order, limiting their lead to just 88 runs. In the second essay, India did put up a stronger fight, but Nathan Lyon's 8-wicket haul limited their efforts. Player of the Match was the offspinner, who took 11 wickets in the Test match. However, Smith also acknowledged the efforts of the two other younger spinners, Todd Murphy and Matthew Kuhnemann.
However, Smith stated that he has enjoyed the challenge presented by these spin-friendly wickets, in contrast to other former Australian cricketers.
"All the wickets have spun," he stated, "we haven't gotten past three days yet so that shows that it's been spinning from day one in all the test matches." "I personally really enjoyed playing on these kinds of wickets." This is better for me than a genuine flat wicket that takes five days to play and can be monotonous in stages. On these wickets, something is always going on. Runs require a lot of effort on your part. However, it demonstrates the men's capability. You need to put in a lot of effort and some luck, but guys can do it. Concerning this one, whether or not it might have been a little bit excessive, possibly from the very first ball. Although I'm not entirely sure, it was still enjoyable."
Smith rejected the idea of returning to full-time captaincy for the Australian team, despite the turnaround and certain on-field decisions that were praised in the third Test.
"My time is finished (as chief). Now it is Pat's team. With Patty going home, it is evident that I have been able to stand in this week, despite the difficult circumstances. He is still in our thoughts and prayers at home as well. Look, I really enjoy captaining ships in India. Every ball in the game has a significance. It's good to just move people and play games with them and try to get the batter to do something different. Probably my favorite place to captain is there.
"You recall home in Australia and for the most part you're playing with a third slip or putting a third slip to cover or your square advantage or back or something to that effect. There isn't much that kind of happens with it. Just kind of follow the same strategy and try to trust what you're trying to do there. However, in this region of the world, you must be extremely proactive. You have to be ahead of the game because every ball is an event that determines what happens after it, which is something I really enjoy. Therefore, I thought I did a good job this week and it was fun."
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