first_imgSteve Smith will remember this Indian summer for years to come. He brought an inexperienced Australian team to take on world beaters India in a four-Test series and led them admirably.Smith totalled 499 runs, hammered three hundreds and led the Aussies to an emphatic win in Pune before the hosts regrouped to come back strongly. However, Smith’s doggedness rubbed off on the rest of his teammates and Australia, despite losing 1-2, bowed out with their heads held high.Next up, Smith replaced MS Dhoni as skipper of Rising Pune Supergiant before the start of the 10th edition of the Indian Premier League. His popularity among Indian fans, after the heated battles in the Test series, must have nose-dived further. Dhoni, after all, is one of the most loved cricketers in the country.However, the young Australian captain, led with tact. He bonded well with Dhoni and was soon a role model for the younger players like Rahul Tripathi, Washington Sundar and Jaydev Unadkat. He also led from the front and amassed 472 runs for RPS, playing crucial knocks at crucial junctures.In the final, RPS had fancied their chances after restricting Mumbai Indians to a modest 129/8, albeit on a tricky pitch. Smith was again out there, scripting a chase with a determined half-century. However, the middle-order’s inability to break free against a tight attack had put too much pressure on him against world-class bowlers like Lasith Malinga, Jasprit Bumrah and former Australian teammate Mitchell Johnson.RPS eventually fell short by one run in what was their last IPL game. They finished second on the points table and qualified for the final at one go, defeating MI for the third time in the season. That their only loss against them had to come in the final and that too off the last ball, would be heartbreaking to say the least.advertisementSmith admitted as much in the post-match presentation ceremony.”It’s a hard one to swallow. I am proud of the way the boys played throughout the tournament,” he said and added that it was a tough wicket to bat on.Smith felt Mumbai Indians were below par with their score which happened to be the lowest ever by a team batting first in an IPL final.”Mumbai were probably below par with 129. It was a tough wicket to get runs, everyone could see that.”We just couldn’t get over the line. We had wickets in hand as well. It was only one or two good overs that we needed to get in front so full credit to them,” he said.Smith was gracious in his defeat but it was difficult to not notice the dismay. After the disappointment of the Test series, he would have wanted to end the summer on a high by lifting the IPL silverware.”It’s been fantastic, I’ve learnt so much from the IPL over the last two years. I’d like to thank my franchise. Who knows where we’ll be next year. It’s just disappointing to lose; it wasn’t the fairy tale finish we wanted.”last_img read more