IMAGE: India retained the Border-Gavaskar Trophy with a 2-1 win over Australia. Photograph: Robert Cianflone/Getty Images
Australia stand-in captain Steve Smith felt rookie spinners Todd Murphy and Matthew Kuhnemann performed outstandingly on their first tours of the Indian sub-continent.
While the veteran Nathan Lyon was their standout bowler with 22 wickets, off-spinner Murphy (14 from four Tests) and Kuhnemann (nine from three Tests) did hold their own against a star-studded India who clinched the Border-Gavaskar series with a 2-1 margin.
“All the guys are going to take a hell of a lot out of the last couple of weeks. Kuhnemann and Murphy debuting in Test cricket in India, it can be quite daunting at times and the way they came in and performed was outstanding,” Smith said after the end of the series.
He also lauded Travis Head, who fronted up after regular opener David Warner left India with a fractured elbow.
“Going up there and playing at short notice was a real positive (for Travis Head). Greeny (Cameron Green), the way he came in and played was outstanding as well.
“Marnus has shown glimpses throughout the series. He has got some good starts without really going on with it but he’s shown he can play well here as well.
“He is a world class player and he’s going to take a lot out of the series for next time he comes back. I’m sure a lot of the players will.”
Smith expects that CA set-up would do enough to nurture these spinners for the Indian conditions.
“I am sure the powers to be at home are looking for ways to prepare our spinners for these conditions. But the way Murphy came in and played in his first game was outstanding.
“Kuhnemann in particular… Those five wickets in Indore set up the game. The way they have developed and learnt to bowl over here on the go has been outstanding. I thought Murphy in the last game and this Test match as well, how tight he kept it, bowling in a defensive way was outstanding.”
Relations much better compared to 2017 series
The 2017 series in India was an ill-tempered series, especially after Smith’s ‘Brain Fade’ incident in Bengaluru and Kohli subsequently stopped calling him a “cheat”.
“I thought the game was played in really good spirit. It was very relaxed, we were letting cricket do the talking, just a really good series to be a part of, everyone was enjoying themselves out on the field.
“The first three games were pretty quick ones but it was a great series to be a part of and great fun.”