Bengaluru, July 12: You boo him or don't, he doesn't care. And especially when it comes to knock-out games, Steve Smith is simply unstoppable.
The former Australian skipper, who returned to international cricket after a year of ban because of his involvement in Sandpapergate in South Africa in March 2018, stood up against all odds to score 85 off 119 balls against England in the second semifinal of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 on Thursday.
He was the only hope that Australia had amid their batting ruins and just like Mahendra Singh Dhoni in the other semifinal, he too got run out in the match which England won by eight wickets.
Smith's latest fifty ensured that his good performance in the knock-outs continued without a blemish. He has now scored fifty-plus in four consecutive knock-out games (he had hit a match-winning hundred in the 2015 semifinal against India in Sydney) to equal former India batsman Sachin Tendulkar's record though the Master Blaster took seven innings for the same.
This aspect of Smith's batting is a study in contrast with India skipper Virat Kohli. The former stands far ahead of the Indian batsman when it comes to producing top performance in crunch games like World Cup knock-outs.
Kohli has played three World Cup semifinals so far but could muster only 11 runs (nine against Pakistan in 2011 and one each against Australia and New Zealand in 2015 and 2019, respectively).
Besides, he also fell for just five runs in the high-voltage Champions Trophy final against Pakistan at the Oval in 2017, hence taking his streak of poor form in knock-out games to four games. On two occasions of those, Kohli was the team's captain.
Tendulkar was often criticised of not being able to win big games for India during his playing years. Now, with Kohli nearing him on counts of international hundreds, is the dubious crown too now shifting head?
As for Smith, he showed that booing by the crowd never affected his game as he has said in the past. He scored a hundred against England in the warm-up game ahead of the World Cup amid the catcalls and said after the game against India that he doesn't think too much into the gesture that the crowd came up with. He said this after Kohli himself stood up against Indian fans jeering Smith as "cheater" from the stands.