IPL 2021, KKR vs DC: Steve Smith fails litmus test on return to Delhi Capitals Playing XI

Former Australia captain Steve Smith might have dominated in Test cricket but he hasn’t found much success in T20s. That he has not been considered a first-choice player in IPL says a lot. On Tuesday, he got another chance to prove his worth in T20s ahead of the T20 World Cup as Delhi Capitals gave him a start after Prithvi Shaw was ruled out due to injury. But it wasn’t an outcome he would want. He scored 39 off 34 balls at a strike rate of a modest 114.71

While Steve Smith has done well in IPL, it is his strike rates and consistency that have been questioned. In IPL 2020, he played for Rajasthan Royals and returned with 311 runs but with an average of just 25.91 and and failed to provide RR with the explosive and dependable innings that they required.

This time, in limited opportunities, he has averaged just 27.25 with a pretty average strike rate of 111.22. He has had just 9 4s and 1 six to his name. After undergoing a surgery for his troubling elbow, he is slowly coming back to his form and aiming to cement his place in Australia’s Playing XI in the T20 World Cup.

For Delhi Capitals, he isn’t one of the important players and has been used as a backup option. But with Sam Billings, another batsman who can bat at top order as well as middle-order waiting in the dugout, Stev Smith had to prove his mettle.

On Tuesday, on his return, he was made to open. While he did go off to a slow start, he managed to keep two KKR spinners Varun Chakravarthy and Sunil Narine at bay, he struggled on a slow Sharjah pitch. He even hurt himself in the inner thigh trying to go against Lockie Fergusen’s slower delivery. In the next ball, he lost his concentration and lost his wicket.

Before losing his wicket, he largely depended on rotating strikes, hitting just four 4s and no sixes and failed to get the momentum in the powerplay. The SHarjah pitch must take a lot of the blame but with Australia expecting him to deliver at the T20 World Cup, a 34-ball 39 may not be enough.

As for Delhi Capitals, the innings won’t give the team management any confidence either and if Prithvi Shaw is ruled out of the next match, they can go with Sam Billings, who has slightly better strike rate than the former Australia captain.