Australia 2014 and India 2017 were both tough series for India.
The bowlers had one common issue, and that was Steve Smith.
While the series went better than expected in 2014, and India won at home in 2017, Steve Smith remained unbeaten as a batsman.
He was on another plane across the two series and made life difficult for the Indian bowlers.
Steve Smith has a unique batting style as he moves around a lot before facing the ball.
The constant movement and different position of his bat have allowed him to play spin bowling better.
While the technique may work against spin, Smith ensured he adjusted well to play other bowling forms.
Early in his career, there were wonders about his ability to play pace and bounce.
Being healthy on the leg-side and gifted with good hand-eye coordination, his technique works on pace while more movement helps him face short balls.
The movement while playing pace is something Smith developed as his career grew, and it improved his position at the crease.
The movement works well for him but also makes it difficult for bowlers.
The ease at which Smith places the ball makes it challenging for bowlers to get into a rhythm while bowling to him.
As Steve Smith’s final position leaves him close to the stumps, he is a player who is unlikely to get bowled.
His leg-side strength also helps him avoid outside edges, and his ability to move the bat into the right places allows him to pierce gaps with ease.
His style looks very ugly at first but is very useful and can look fun to watch after the initial surprise.
His record against India, in particular, is excellent.
In Test Cricket, Steve Smith averages 84 with seven centuries.
In both the test series he has played against India, Steve Smith was the leading run-scorer, as the Indians struggled to find answers to Steve Smith.
More alarming was how Steve Smith led the run charts in India.
While playing in India, Smith spoke about how he will only give India one edge to play.
His unorthodox style allows him to play shots on the leg side with ease, and he walked the talk by taking the outside edge out of the equation.
He proved his style is perfect for a spin as he stood out in a country where Australian batsmen generally struggle.
Seven centuries in ten tests show how Smith loves India.
The love is not only in test cricket, as Smith has some great numbers in the one-day format.
Steve Smith has an average of 65 and five centuries against India in one-day cricket.
In the 2015 World Cup Semi-final, his century was an example of his dominance as Steve Smith tormented India throughout the trip.
He has a century in Bangalore, but the two in the recent matches will remind India of previous horrors.
Steve Smith hit two consecutive centuries with a strike rate above 150.
His innings proved to be the difference in both games as he exposed India’s bowling troubles.
He made his runs with controlled aggression as he barely gave chances to the opposition, and his form will ring alarm bells for the test series.
An in-form Steve Smith in 2014 was the difference between the two teams as India lost 2-0.
The Indian team found its way past Mitchell Johnson, who had a successful year with the ball, but they struggled to dismiss Steve Smith.
Smith made a century in each test as the bowlers toiled hard.
He continued his love towards India in 2017, with three more centuries in India.
His three centuries in India put the opposition under a lot of pressure and almost helped Australia win a series in India.
They lost 2-1 in a closely fought series as Smith continued his form against India.
With his two centuries in two ODIs, Smith doesn’t seem to have forgotten his love for India.
His centuries are seen as messages to the Indian bowlers who will have to work hard to dismiss Smith later in the tour.
The short ball tactic by Neil Wagner earlier in the year has been talked about, but it may not be enough as Smith seems ready.
With Ishant Sharma injured, the Indians may also struggle to find a bowler who can match Neil Wagner’s consistency with the short ball.
Going by how Smith has found his hands, a long and tiring Test series seems to await India.
Dismissing Smith will undoubtedly be a massive task, and failure to do so will hurt the Indian bowlers badly as they may have to spend long hours on the field.
With Virat Kohli absent, the aggression may also play a part in the bowler’s energy to dismiss Smith.
They will miss Kohli’s batting along with the energy as he may have had the best chance to match Kohli’s brilliance.
He nearly matched Steve Smith in 2014 with four centuries, but this time around, India may need to find someone else to remain competitive.
The best India can do hope the bowlers manage to do something special.
If they aren’t able to, it may not come as a surprise due to Smith’s brilliance, but it will undoubtedly be a long tour for India.