A series involving India and Australia has never been short on drama, entertainment and controversy, and what happened yesterday between Virat Kohli and Steven Smith at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bangalore was just another new chapter added to what is already a very thick book.
Batting in the second innings yesterday, Smith was trapped leg before wicket by Umesh Yadav. The batsman walked up to the non-striker Peter Handscomb to get his opinion.
The two discussed something and Smith then looked towards the dressing room with an upward nod of his head, clearly asking the question whether he should ask for the Decision Review System (DRS) or not.
Now, the ICC rules on seeking DRS categorically state that the only consultation a batsman can have is with the non-striker.
The official Rules state: “If the umpires believe that the captain or batsman has received direct or indirect input emanating other than from the players on the field, then they may, at their discretion, decline the request for a Player Review. In particular, signals from the dressing room must not be given.”
What Smith did was definitely against the spirit of cricket, which purists will vouch for, is a lot more serious offence than misdemeanors like excessive appealing and sledging.
However, if Kohli was trying to imply his Australian counterpart is a cheat, then that won’t be correct either.
Without trying to question Kohli’s argument that this was the third time the Indians had caught the Australians – the previous two occasions had gone unnoticed by me at least – there were at least two instances just before Smith’s, which proves the Aussie captain is not a serial offender.
Just before his own decision, Smith was at the non-striker’s end when the visitors lost David Warner and Shaun Marsh – both leg before to Ravichandran Ashwin and Yadav respectively.
In both cases, the batsmen walked to Smith to ask whether they should go for the DRS. And both times, Smith did not look up to the dressing room for help.
Smith blamed it on a “brain fade”, and let’s leave it at that for the time being, and instead celebrate one of the greatest victories in recent times for India.
What seemed downright impossible after the first day, when they were bowled out for 189, became a possibility when Indian bowlers restricted Australia to 237-6 and eventually to 276 all out on day three.
That really was the most crucial phase of the match because the visitors needed to score big in their first innings, considering their second innings would be the fourth on a pitch that was causing immense problems with variable bounce.
Best cricket match of my life!! pic.twitter.com/nrswN7a1nt— Ashwin Ravichandran (@ashwinravi99) March 7, 2017
Despite the collapse Tuesday, when the last six wickets fell for 26 runs and threatened to undo all the good work of Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane, the Indian bowling and fielding rose to the occasion and sealed a memorable win.
It was almost like that famous win in Kolkata way back in 2001 when Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman put together a 376-run partnership after India were asked to follow on.
The all-conquering Australian team under Steve Waugh, which had won the first Test in Mumbai, lost the second Test and never recovered from the shock.
They then lost the third and final Test in Chennai to lose the series 2-1. What happened in Bangalore yesterday could well spell out a 3-1 series win for the hosts.
Indian cricket is about to see a change as electronics brand Oppo will be the new sponsors for the national men’s, women’s and youth teams for the next five years.
Oppo will replace media company Star India on the Indian jersey from April 2017.
“The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) is pleased to announce OPPO Mobiles India Private Limited as the new team sponsor for the Indian Cricket Team,” said a BCCI statement.
“The mobile manufacturing giant OPPO’s association with BCCI will start from April 2017 for a period of five years.”
Oppo replace Star as the lead sponsor of the Indian cricket team.
India opener KL Rahul, who has grown up playing at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bengaluru, feels that day three was the best day for batting in the ongoing Test between India and Australia.
The 24-year-old, who scored his second half-century of the match on Monday, expects the pitch to produce more unpredictable bounce on day four.
“It was a little bit easier than the first innings. I thought in the first innings in the first session, [pitch] was a little damp and that’s why the ball was bouncing a little bit more,” said Rahul.
“The wicket was the best to bat today. I have played all my cricket here and I have played a lot of first-class cricket and I know the third day is the best day to bat on this wicket.
“On the fourth day, the wicket starts doing some tricks. Few [deliveries] will go down and few will jump up. I’ve seen that a lot.”
After Rahul’s dismissal, India lost captain Virat Kohli and Ravindra Jadeja quickly and found themselves in huge trouble at 120-4 with a lead of just 33 runs.
But Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane put on an unbeaten 93-run partnership to bring the hosts right back into the match.
“I have played a lot of cricket here for the Karnataka team and we always know that on the fourth day, the cracks will start opening up. The longer we bat, it’s going to get harder for Australia to bat in the fourth innings,” added Rahul.