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 [Watch] Steve Smith Fails Again Against NZ; T20 World Cup Selection Doubtful

image-lt15tv8fSmith is likely to be left out of the World Cup squad. (X.com)

In the absence of David Warner, talismanic Indian batter Steve Smith had a golden opportunity to stake his claim for the opener's role, but unfortunately, he squandered it by getting dismissed for a single-digit score in the third T20I against New Zealand at Eden Park. This match marked Australia's final game before the T20 World Cup 2024.

In what appears to be his last T20 audition before the World Cup in June, Smith missed out on capitalizing on the absence of regular opener David Warner. He was dismissed for just four runs during Australia's rain-affected 27-run victory over New Zealand via the DLS method on Sunday.

The dismissal came in the second over of Australia's innings, with Milne accounting for Smith's wicket. Smith, who opened the innings for his country, was caught off guard by the extra bounce after trying to play a backfoot punch to a perfectly pitched delivery shaping away from him. 

The catch was comfortably taken by wicketkeeper Tim Seifert, leaving Smith visibly perplexed by the unexpected bounce.

This wasn't the first time Smith struggled at the venue; in the previous game, Lockie Ferguson had also dismissed him for 11 runs. Despite being handed two opportunities to stake his claim for the T20 World Cup selection, Smith couldn't make an impact beyond the third over on both occasions.

Although he played a superb scoop shot against Adam Milne in the preceding T20 in Auckland, it was the only highlight in an otherwise disappointing innings for the unorthodox batter.

The T20I series against New Zealand provided Australia with a chance to fine-tune their starting XI ahead of the T20 World Cup campaign in the West Indies and the United States. 

With the team limited to selecting only 15 players for the World Cup, Smith is likely competing for a place as an opener alongside contenders like David Warner, Travis Head, and Matthew Short.

However, the road ahead seems challenging for Smith, especially with the competition for the opening slot and the lack of further T20Is before the World Cup. 

Furthermore, his absence from the upcoming IPL 2024, due to not having a contract with any franchise, poses additional hurdles for the selectors in considering him for the mega event.