Perth: After a massive victory over New Zealand, Australia skipper Tim Paine feels that his team is moving in the right direction.
"Certainly over the last 18 months, there's been a drastic improvement in this team. Granted we have some players back which is helping, but there's been an improvement in the guys who were given a chance 18 months ago and the experienced players have come back and put some icing on the top. We are moving in the right direction," ESPN Cricinfo quoted Paine as saying.
Australia thrashed New Zealand by 296 runs in the first Test on Sunday and took a 1-0 lead in the three-match Test series.
Steve Smith was at his devastating best during the Ashes series and Paine stressed that they wanted the other players to stand up.
The skipper is pleased with the performance of Marnus Labuschagne, who scored a century in the first innings and half-century in the second innings against New Zealand.
"It's been great, we touched on that at the end of the Ashes that we needed other guys to stand up and can't be reliant on Steve. We are really pleased with Marnus, he's been unbelievably good. David (Warner) and Joe (Burns) have been scoring runs and that's what we'll all have to be doing if we are to be one of the better teams in the world," Paine said.
"Guys have got to stand up, we can't rely on a few individuals. We are really happy with the way our batting has developed," he added. The second Test between Australia and New Zealand will begin on 26 December.
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First innings heroes Marnus Labuschagne and Steve Smith steered Australia to a commanding 197-run lead in the high-stakes third Test in Sydney Saturday, leaving an injury-hit India with a mountain to climb.
Australia finished the first day on 274 for five, with Cameron Green on 28 and Tim Paine alongside him on 38 to put the home side marginally in front on a benign Gabba wicket.
Smith, a former Australia captain, was seen scuffing up the batsman's guard during drinks break in the first session on Monday.