When Pakistani leg-spinner Yasir Shah got Australian run-machine Steve Smith out in the first Test between the two teams at Brisbane, he made a sign of seven with his fingers. This was a reference to the fact that this was the seventh time the leggie has got the scalp of Smith in Test matches.
There is only one bowler who has got the former Australian captain out more times than Yasir – Stuart Broad. But Broad has played in 24 Tests involving Smith whereas Yasir has faced him just six times in the longest format of the game.
But the Pakistani leg-spinner may soon regret his gesture. The will-power and concentration of Smith is reaching legendary proportions. The comeback that he has made after serving a one-year ban for ball-tampering shows that the right-hander only gets better when faced with a big challenge.
Now that Yasir has shown the world that he thinks he has Smith's number, there is no doubt that the latter would look to get his own back in the next Test. He, in fact, decided to mete out punishment to his own self by running back to the team hotel from the ground rather than taking the bus – a distance of approximately three kilometers.
Smith's rationale for doing so shows his unmatched desire to succeed. "I always punish myself when I get no runs, just like I reward myself when I score runs with a chocolate bar at the end of the night if I get a hundred. So yeah, if I get no runs, I always like to have a run or go to the gym or do something just to give myself a bit of a punishment," he said.
The prolific batter also reacted to the celebration of Yasir and accepted that it would motivate him further. "It gave me a bit more motivation next game to not get out to him. So, I will probably be a little bit more disciplined against him."
Smith was dismissed for four by Shah. The right-hander had hit a boundary off the bowling of Yasir by coming down the wicket but then, tried to play a straight delivery across the line to get bowled. But the former Aussie skipper doesn't think that Yasir has a decided edge over him.
"I feel the times he (Shah) has got me out, I have been on a few runs. I have been slogging in a couple of second innings ones where I was playing some funky shots and stuff so I'm not too worried."
Smith also partially attributed his failure to the situation being easy for the team and his willingness to be ultra-aggressive. "I probably do bat a little bit better when there is pressure on, for sure. The situation we were at was a pretty good one ... I actually spoke to JL (Justin Langer) in the morning.
"I was like 'how should I approach this today, what do you think?' and he said 'do what you want to do'. I thought about being quite aggressive and it didn't work. It's fine with me. I know that (in) batting, you fail a lot, so when you get in need to make the most of it," Smith concluded.