It’s not like Varun Aaron didn’t try. He even opened his mouth slightly, but the words simply didn’t come out.
Probably because he just didn’t know what to say. Nothing that could have passed off for an apt riposte anyway.
He quietly turned around and walked back to his mark. Behind him, David Warner stood flashing the most sardonic smirk you can imagine. A fast bowler had just been sledged by a batsman.
“Come on, come on, come on,” the diminutive Australian opener had yelled at Aaron after shouldering arms to a harmless length delivery outside his off-stump.
Warner of course was mimicking what the Indian pacer had bellowed out after having knocked his nemesis’ stumps back with a zippy in-coming ball off the previous delivery in the 34th over of the innings. Just like he had after having received a fortuitous reprieve with replays confirming that Aaron’s right foot had crept ever so slightly over the popping crease.
What ensued thereafter was absolute bedlam. It is learnt that peeved with Warner’s reaction, skipper Virat Kohli, who had celebrated Warner’s dismissal, that was not to be, with the same verve, had reminded the Australian opener that he had simply gotten lucky with the acquittal and that he should concentrate on his batting.
In a way, the duo was renewing their rivalry that had reached its nadir during the ODI series in India last year. In fact, for a while, the centre of the Adelaide Oval is believed to have become a free-for-all with a number of Indian cricketers, including Cheteshwar Pujara, exchanging words with Watson.
The umpires got involved, with Ian Gould having to pull both Kohli and Warner apart for chats, separately, to tone down the tempers. Watson and Dhawan though kept at it for a little longer. Warner then pushed a single to deep point two balls later, and as he crossed to the other end even blew a sarcastic kiss to Aaron.
Then came the second round of the verbal wars between the Indians and the Australians. This time it involved Steve Smith and Rohit Sharma, with Kohli almost inevitably getting involved again. Smith had come down the wicket and padded a delivery from Rohit, who had appealed for an lbw decision.
While umpire Marais Erasmus had declined the appeal, Smith is said to have wondered out aloud what they were appealing for as he was way down the wicket. A similar appeal had been turned down in Rohit’s previous over despite the Indians going up in unison.
At which point, Rohit screamed “What, what?” at Smith. Moments later, Kohli was in Smith’s ear saying something to the extent of, “We don’t want you umpiring this game.” Warner was soon on the scene too, this time trying to play mediator between his teammate and the opposition skipper.
Umpire Gould wasn’t far behind as he summoned Kohli for another chat, as if he were the indulgent headmaster, and Virat his chronically errant pupil.
And when Smith asked Rohit to ditch the trash-talk, he was overheard asking the Australian No.5 to mind his own business. Rohit generally doesn’t get sucked into scuffles. It’s almost like it’s too much work for him. But here, even he was ready for an exchange. It somehow seemed natural for that to be the case. For India and Australia were back to being at each other’s throats on the cricket field.
A day after a fast bowler looked more visibly shaken than the batsman he had just struck with a bouncer, parity had been restored. The unnatural bonhomie between the two teams had come to an end. The series had come alive.