What’s the story?
Australian skipper Steven Smith has opened up on the controversial shoulder-clutching episode in the third Test against India in Ranchi. The 27-year old insisted that he neither mocked Virat Kohli‘s shoulder-injury nor did the visitors taunt India’s physiotherapist Patrick Farhart for his efforts.
During the post-match press conference, Kohli alleged, “They (Australian players) started taking Patrick’s name. I don’t know why. He’s our physio. His job is to treat me. I don’t find the reason behind it. I could not understand. You must ask why they have started taking his name.”
However, Smith responded, “I was a bit disappointed (with the shoulder-grabbing incidents). I didn't actually do anything. Virat was having a go at me saying I was disrespecting Patrick Farhart. He did a terrific job to get Virat out on the field. He's a terrific physio.”
Following the infamous DRS saga in the second Test in Bengaluru, the Ranchi clash was marred by Kohli’s shoulder-injury and the accompanying slew of acrimonious incidents between the two teams.
The heart of the matter
Kohli strained his shoulder while trying to stop a boundary during the opening day. Farhart helped him walk off the field in order to provide medical assistance. A couple of days later, Australia’s comeback man Glenn Maxwell was seen clutching his shoulder in an apparent attempt to mock the Indian skipper’s injury.
The hosts were visibly aggrieved at Maxwell’s antics. After Kohli edged a Pat Cummins delivery to Smith, a half-baked image circulating on social media saw the Australian captain grab his shoulder to mock his counterpart. It prompted commentators like VVS Laxman to question Smith’s conduct. However, the complete photo revealed a team-mate’s unintentional hand on the visiting skipper’s shoulder.
When the tables began to turn on the last two days, Kohli retorted by giving send-offs to David Warner and Smith after they were dismissed at Ravindra Jadeja’s hands. In the ensuing maelstrom, Farhart was apparently caught in the cross-fire. Interestingly, the Indian team’s physiotherapist is an Australian citizen of Lebanese heritage. He had worked with the Baggy Greens in the past.
Despite India’s best attempts to force a result, the resolute fifth-wicket partnership between Shaun Marsh and Peter Handscomb helped Australia escape with a draw. The riveting action has raised the expectations for the winner-takes-all clash in Dharamsala.
Even as the match saw some unnecessary antics by both sets of players trivialising an injury, Ranchi’s debut Test needs to be remembered for the hard-fought contest between two intense teams. With everything at stake, the all-important fourth Test could witness the continuation of flaring tempers. Hopefully, the cricket takes centre stage in the series decider.