R Ashwin has expressed surprise at the whole review controversy surrounding Steve Smith and the Australian team. During the episode, Steve Smith looked back at the dressing room for suggestions on whether to review or not in the second innings of the second Test. This move drew ire from Virat Kohli and needed the umpires to step up and intervene. The on-field umpires then told Smith that such a move was against the rules and the Australian skipper then walked back to the pavillion.
In the post-match press conference, Kohli didn’t mince any words and said there had been two other instances of such systematic tactics during a review call. He, however, stopped short of calling it ‘cheating’.
The whole affair has drawn counter claims from both sets of boards with Cricket Australia CEO James Sutherland backing Steve Smith, coach Darren Lehmann expressing the game was played fairly and then BCCI putting their support behind Kohli and asking ICC to ensure the subsequent two Tests are played fairly.
“Steven Smith actually turned back and asked the dressing room if he could take a review,” Ashwin said in a video on bcci.tv. “That is completely unheard of. The last time I thought that to happen was in an Under-10 game, when my coach used to suggest where point fielders and cover fielders used to stand. It was really surprising. I have a lot of respect for Steven Smith, but that was very very surprising.”
Sledging was for the first time in this series quite visible with both sets of players getting into each other’s ear with banter. However, there were no ugly scenes. “Well, see, they were talking a lot and probably sledging is something which, as a unit, we felt that we can give them back,” Cheteshwar Pujara said. “They were always under pressure when they walked in to bat, and I wanted to make sure their batsmen were thinking about it, especially David Warner. Whenever he walks in to bat, Ash [Ashwin] is always happy, so I always keep reminding him that Ash is the one who picks [up his wicket].”
Another interesting moment during the Test was Ashwin pointing repeatedly at his forehead after getting Mitchell Starc – mimicking the gesture Starc had made after being hit for a six by Abhinav Mukund during the second innings. “I saw yesterday (Monday), Abhi (Mukund) pulled Mitchell Starc for a six, he top-edged it for six,” Ashwin said. “But yes, I don’t think he was in any sort of hurry when he pulled that ball, and Mitchell Starc suggested that he would hit him on the helmet. I don’t know, people generally have the habit of saying I’ll hit you back on the helmet at Gabba. It doesn’t matter, this is Bangalore, so I thought I must tell him that he got hit off me, in the first innings, on the helmet.”
Pujara further revealed that he scored the 92 runs in the second innings despite having a sore neck. He reckoned he wouldn’t have been able to bat at No.3 but work by physio made it all possible. “It was my neck which was troubling me a lot,” Pujara said. “To be honest, it was a serious issue when I went in to bat in the second innings. I would like to thank Patrick Farhart, our physio, who made it possible for me to bat, and bat at No. 3, because there was one stage where I felt I might not be able to bat No. 3 because my neck was really sore. But he worked on it and ultimately I achieved the goal for the team.”