India vs Australia: All's not well in Ranchi!
Much was expected from the ongoing four-match Test series between India and Australia- a fierce battle of cricketing skills, mind games, sledging and the world two top teams have lived up to the expectations.
Contrary to everyone's predictions that the Steve Smith led-side would bow down before India, the World No. 1 Test side, the visitors came out strongly and humiliated the hosts by a huge margin of 333 runs at Pune in the first Test.
In the second game, Kohli and Co. however, came back strongly and beat Australia by 75 runs to level the series 1-1.
But the Test match became more famous for the 'DRS' controversy or the 'reviewgate' as said by many. The match ended in controversy after Smith was caught looking towards the dressing room balcony when considering whether to appeal his dismissal.
Kohli and umpire Nigel Llong swooped on the Australian captain, the official directing him to leave the field without using the DRS.
Kohli said later that the Australians had done it throughout the game and at least twice while he was batting - a claim vehemently denied by the visitors.
Smith accepted he did the wrong thing, saying it was a "brain fade" and a one-off.
Following the furore, both the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and Cricket Australia (CA) came out with respective statements, wherein both the boards stood by their captains and teams.
Later on, the International Cricket Council (ICC) settled the matter and confirmed that no charges were laid against Smith, Kohli or any other player under the ICC Code of Conduct in relation to the DRS incident in the Bengaluru Test.
ICC Chief Executive David Richardson, in a statement said, "We have just witnessed a magnificent game of Test cricket where players from both teams gave their all and emotions were running high during and after the match.
"We would encourage both teams to focus their energies on the third Test in Ranchi next week. Ahead of that, the match referee will bring both captains together to remind them of their responsibilities to the game."
Following the ICC's decision, the BCCI also withdrew its complaint it had filed with the ICC.
In its complaint, the BCCI said that both the Australian players, namely Steve Smith and Peter Handscomb, had committed an alleged level 2 offence for acting against the spirit of cricket.
Both the team management and the players insisted that they have moved on from the incident and all has been done and dusted.
However, on the eve of the third Test in Ranchi, it became quite clear that tensions still prevails, at least between the two captains.
Addressing a press conference on Wednesday, Kohli insisted that he stands by the views he expressed after the Bengaluru Test, adding that he doesn't have any regret about what he said.
During the presser, the 28-year-old was specifically asked about the 'allegations' he had made during the Bengaluru Test.
When the journalist elaborated on it, Kohli still insisted on the exact nature of allegation. "But what is the allegation called? It has to be called something for me to be questioning something about someone to call it an allegation. If no charges were pressed against me how were they allegations?" Kohli asked.
When the concerned journalist again asked Kohli if he stands by his claim that Australia had 'crossed the line' on DRS at least twice, the Indian skipper said, "As I said we need to move on and focus on the game tomorrow. There are two sides of the coin. I could be speaking about it again and things are not going to move forward."
"Everyone sitting here has their own interest and they choose to ask what they want to. But our focus remains on the game and we need to look forward."
"I think about what I say. I don't regret anything that I have said but at the same time, it's very important not to be stupid and go on with the same thing on a daily basis because there's cricket to be played. There was a decent break in between," Kohli said.
The 28-year-old also said that it was a matured decision on everyone's part to move on and focus on the remaining games of the four-match series.
"We certainly don't want to sit and think about one thing. We have cricket to play, we have two Test matches to play and that's what we are focusing on," he said.
"It was a matured decision on everyone's part to move on.It's good for everybody that everyone moves on because there are two sides of a coin. One side will say one thing, the other side will say another and that just takes away the focus of the game. So, it's in the best interest of everyone that we move on and focus on the game," he added.
Later on, Smith, while addressing the pre-Test match conference, also hit back at Kohli's comments, saying they were "completely wrong and rubbish".
"It was a little bit disappointing. I think that obviously I made a mistake and I came out and said that. What I did was wrong and I know that," Smith said.
"But that was the first time it has happened. I know as a team we don't do that. And I think his comments... I think he said that we did it twice while he was out there. I don't think he was out there long enough for two appeals. He's entitled to his opinion, but from my point of view he's completely wrong."
"Virat obviously stuck by his comments. From my point of view, they are completely wrong. I obviously came out after the game and said that I had made a mistake. It was an error on my behalf. I had a brain fade. In regards to we do it consistently, that's complete rubbish in my opinion. So, I think he was wrong in his statement," he added.
The Australian skipper asserted that it was in everyone's interest that they move on and concentrate on the remaining two Test matches.
"It's about moving on and concentrating on this Test match. I think it has been a great series so far and again hopefully cricket can be the winner in this Test match. It's an exciting moment, 1-1 in the series. We are all excited about this Test match and hopefully it can be a good one," he said.
With the series nicely poised at 1-1, the on-field fireworks looks far from over and a lot of verbal sparks could be set off in the remaining two Tests.
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