The first session of the second day’s play at the Chinnaswamy Stadium on Sunday saw just 47 runs scored for the loss of two wickets in 29 overs.
Don’t let the numbers fool you, though. It was, by a distance, the most absorbing session of a home match this season.
The Indian pacers bowled with tremendous control on a pitch that offered good bounce, while Ravi Ashwin used his considerable variations to try and engineer more breakthroughs once he had flummoxed David Warner with one that turned sharply out of the leg-stump rough.
Much of the action happened between deliveries. It kicked off with Matt Renshaw and Ashwin getting into a tangle as Steven Smith set off for a single to get off the mark. Smith and Ashwin exchanged words, and Virat Kohli, the Indian captain, wasn’t slow to have his say either.
That verbal jousting continued for as long as Smith was out there. Having scored five hundreds in his last five Tests against India, Kohli’s men knew the value of Smith’s wicket, and along with their tight bowling, numerous attempts were made to upset his concentration.
“There was a bit of talk, but I think that’s because they [Smith and Kohli] are trying to unnerve each other, and get under the skin,” said Renshaw.
“But it’s all good fun, a good contest out there.”
Kohli didn’t just offer his thoughts to the two batsmen. He also turned to the crowd to pump up the volume. “It was really loud out there when he was doing that,” said Renshaw, who wasn’t fazed at all by the noise.
“It’s something I’m probably not used to, but it’s about embracing different conditions and different challenges that we get.
Matt Renshaw has now faced more balls in Test cricket in India than Brian Lara did#INDvAUS— Swamp (@sirswampthing) March 5, 2017
“I was just trying to enjoy it and trying to laugh at what he was saying, because some of it was quite funny.
“I don’t try and say too much out there. I just try and smile because in my past experience, smiling seems to unnerve the bowlers a bit more than talking back.”
Asked what it was that Kohli had said to him, Renshaw smiled. “He was just saying that I might need to run off and go to the toilet again, which happened in Pune. It was quite funny.
“We know that they’re trying to get under our skin because we’ve got a 1-0 lead in the series. We took it pretty well and were just trying to get on with the game.”
Cheteshwar Pujara also played down the exchanges, saying it was normal during an India-Australia game. “When we play the Australian team, there is always some sledging involved,” he said.
“I don’t know what the exact words were, but there were some moments when they were exchanging words. But all in all, I think it was still in the spirit of the game. They [the words] were nothing personal, and they were just having a chat.”
This article originally featured on WisdenIndia.com and was written by Dileep Premachandran.
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