What’s the story?
Indian off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin has expressed surprise at the manner in which Australian skipper Steven Smith handled the Decision Review System (DRS) in the second Test between the two sides in Bengaluru. In a bcci.tv video, the all-rounder discussed the controversy with teammate Cheteshwar Pujara.
Ashwin quipped, “Steven Smith actually turned back and asked the dressing room if he could take a review. 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.”
On his like-for-like send-off to Mitchell Starc in the second innings, he revealed, “I saw yesterday, Abhi (Abhinav Mukund) pulled Starc for a six, he top-edged it for six. But yes, I don't think he was in any sort of hurry when he pulled that ball and 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.”
After being demolished by the visitors in the opening Test in Pune, India stormed back with a euphoric 75-run triumph in the second Test in Bengaluru. As with any other India-Australia contest, this one had its fair share of controversy too.
The heart of the matter
As the situation got tense in the middle with the match approaching its business stages, the players began to feel the heat as well. When Mukund top-edged a quick delivery from Starc, the latter attempted to intimidate the batsman by pointing a finger at his own forehead.
However, Ashwin had the last laugh in the fourth innings. With the speedster being one of his six victims, he eyed Starc and celebrated his scalp in a similar finger-at-forehead fashion.
However, the major bone of contention between the two teams had occurred much earlier. After getting trapped in front by a delivery which kept really low, Smith was seen looking towards the dressing room for possible hints on whether he should utilise a review or not. An infuriated Virat Kohli complained to the umpires who sent the Australian captain back on his way.
The DRS controversy has triggered a war of words between the two camps. Adding the intrinsic player battles such as the Starc-Ashwin one, the series is spicing up rapidly. The next skirmish will begin on the 16th at the JSCA International Stadium Complex in Ranchi.
With even former Australian captains such as Michael Clarke and Steve Waugh coming down hard on Smith’s DRS tactics, it is becoming increasingly evident that the 27-year-old has landed himself in hot water.
It remains to be seen how the ICC takes stock of the entire episode. Amidst all these games of one-upmanship, neither team can afford to lose focus in what is shaping up to be a hard-fought Test series.