With ICC sanctions firmly in place, cricket has been losing character due to fear of penalty but there are still a few who can engage the crowd with their on-field skirmishes.
Indian captain Virat Kohli and England’s premier all-rounder Ben Stokes are having a go at each other for the past three days — at times openly like on the first day and at times subtly like it has happened in the next two days.
For many it would be a case of deja vu if they jog their memory back to a similar on-field intensity that an England all-rounder and an Indian captain showed.
It was India’s most colourful captain Sourav Ganguly whose epic shirt waving at Lord’s balcony after 2002 Natwest final will be etched in cricket lovers’ memory forever.
The trigger was Flintoff waving his jersey after winning an ODI for England at Wankhede Sadium few months prior to Natwest final.
The third Test at Mohali is also witnessing some on-field fireworks between Stokes and Kohli.
On the first day, after Stokes was dismissed, he had a verbal spat with Kohli while returning to the pavilion — an act that got him ICC’s reprimand.
— Captains (@DhoniKohliFever) 28 November 2016
On second day, it was Stokes’ turn to get a well-set Kohli out and then to comically gesture ‘sealed lips’ so as to make people aware that he has been under sanction.
On the third day, as soon as Stokes was dismissed by Jayant Yadav, Kohli made an ‘I am quiet’ gesture which said it all.
When Jonny Bairstow was asked about it, his answer suggested that they seemed to have now accepted that Virat Kohli comes with a package.
“It’s up to him (Kohli), isn’t it. He’s obviously quite a vocal character. But that’s Virat. He gets a bit wound up. We’ll leave him to it. If he wants to do that, let him do that. And we’ll go about our business as we have over a period of time. But yes. If he wants to do that and let the crowd do that, then let him,” Bairstow’s answer revealed that they won’t like to go further with it even though it wasn’t exactly amusing.
Bairstow also dismissed the fact that England batsmen were trying some sledging tactics by standing straight when spinners were bowling.
“No sledging. I don’t think there’s anything in that to be honest with you. The standing straight is standing straight. You can stand anywhere you want. I don’t think there’s a set thing to stand there at the moment. It is not a set play to try to unsettle anyone or anything like that. It’s just that we fancy standing a bit straight.
“You’ve got Jadeja at one end, who gets through his overs in about four seconds (in jest) and you have guys at the other end with a slightly longer run-up. So to try and settle into a rhythm as a batter can be a little tricky when you’ve got two spinners at different ends going at 4 and 7 second an over!”
Bairstow did agree that they have been outplayed on the third day.
“I think they have won today. I think up until this morning, it was evenly poised, to be honest with you. If this morning, we’d gone bang bang for two wickets, it would have been a great start to the day. But unfortunately that was not the case. They have played well this morning, to give them credit. So yeah, they played nicely today and put us in a tough position.”