Australia batsman Steve Smith says a training breakthrough during a stint in isolation has helped him find his hands again and he is confident his Indian Premier League struggles are behind him as he prepares to face India on Friday.
Smith had a relatively quiet IPL in the United Arab Emirates, scoring 311 runs at 25.91 in 14 matches. He averaged 41.40 in the previous three years of the tournament.
The 31-year-old said he had hardly picked up a bat during the early months of the Covid-19 pandemic and then struggled on Australia's limited-overs tour of England, where he scored 31 runs in three Twenty20 innings.
Smith's batting woes were a major concern for Australia, who are set to face India in six limited-overs matches before the mouth-watering test series.
But back in isolation in Sydney after returning from the UAE, Smith said he felt like he had found his rhythm and was striking the ball better and able to place it where he wanted.
"The past few days I have found something ... I have found my hands which I am extremely excited about," Smith told reporters on Tuesday.
"It's just getting that feel of the bat behind my toe the right way, the way my hands come up the bat.
"But it just hasn't quite been right until two days ago. I found a little something and everything just clicked in.
"I had a big smile on my face after training the other day."
The smile will no doubt spread to the faces of Australian fans if Smith has indeed rediscovered his form.
He averages 84.05 against India in tests and 60.46 in one-day internationals. The last time Smith said he had "found his hands" was ahead of the 2017/18 Ashes test series, where he tore apart England's attack for 687 runs at 137.40.
"In big series I try and stand up and get the best out of myself," Smith said.
"Whether there is something more inside me that comes out, I'm not sure."