Indian captain Virat Kohli launched a series of verbal volleys on the visiting Australian team post the gripping second Test match which India won by 75 runs. Without using the word 'çheating', Kohli accused his counterpart Steve Smith and his team of flouting the Decision Review System rule three times during the Bengaluru Test and said he had brought it to the notice of umpires. Smith termed it a brain fade, but also admitted he did attempt to consult his dressing room—strictly disallowed under the the DRS rule.
Kohli also flayed bowler Nathan Lyon for describing him as the “head of the snake”. He did not spare former Australian wicket keeper Ian Healy either, flaying his comment on 'losing respect for Kohli' after the Indian skipper took a wrong call on DRS in the first innings. Kohli asked Healy to see his own footage during a match at Centurion, South Africa, where he was suspended for throwing his bat after his dismissal.
Any India-Australia series is incomplete without a controversy erupting between the two teams. This series also is no different. If it was 'monekey-gate' in 2007-08 series Down Under, it is a 'review-gate' and a 'snake gate' in the ongoing one.
While Smith called it a brain fade, skipper Kohli rubbished the excuse. Smith's own statement appears to be a dead giveaway thought on the DRS 'plan'.
It all started when Smith, marshalling Australia's chase of 187 runs set by India on the fourth day, was trapped leg before the wicket by pacer Umesh Yadav and adjudged out by umpire Nigel Long. Smith had a discussion with his batting partner Peter Handscomb on whether to go for a referral or not and turned towards the dressing room too. At this point, Kohli protested to the umpire who too came down firmly on Smith for attempting to do so. The DRS rule is very clear on players not being allowed to take “any outside input” while deciding on whether to review a dismissal or not. It very explicitly states that “signals from dressing room must not be given.”
Smith, who preceded Kohli in the post match media briefing admitted to his mistake and said, “ I obviously got hit on the pad and looked down to Petey (the non-striker batsman) and he said 'look out there'. I turned around and said 'what do you reckon?' It was a bit of brain-fade on my behalf and, yeah, I shouldn't have done that.”
But did Smith give away Aussie plan on consulting the dressing room for DRS calls? The next question asked to Smith was—When he said 'look up', where did you look?” His response: “I was looking at our boys. So shouldn't have done that. A bit of brain fade. I think it was the first time it has happened.”
However, Kohli questioned Smith's brain fade and said that the Aussies had attempted to take outside input more than once on DRS. “I saw that happening two times when I was batting out there. I pointed that out to the umpire as well, that I have seen their players looking upstairs for confirmation. And that's why the umpire was at him.
“When he turned back the umpire knew exactly what was going on. We observed that,we told match referee and the umpire that it's been happening for the last three days and it has to stop. There is a line that you don't cross on a cricket fielding. Sledging and playing on the opponents mind is different, but I don't want to mention the word, but it falls in that bracket. I would never do something like that on the cricket field.”
Asked by an Aussie reporter if the unmentionable world was cheating, Kohli responded, “I didn't say that, you did.”
It didn't help the yet-again deteriorating relations between the two teams on field when Board of Control for Cricket in India also tweeted a video showing Smith's attempt to take help from dressing room, captioning it “Dressing Room Review System-Smith tries to get some suggestions from the Dressing Room”
Kohli was once again asked to explain his refusal to accept Smith's explanation on brain fade. He said, “The way I left the ball in Pune, you know, getting hit on the off-stump. That was a brain fade. But if something is going on for three days, that's not a brain fade, as simple as that. I don't want to say more on that, videos are out there for everyone to see. It was getting repetitive, that's why the umpires also knew that it might happen again. I saw it two times when I was batting, I can vouch for that.”
However, as things stand, ICC has not confirmed Smith and his team being reported for the same by umpires or match referee Chris Broad. However, Broad has reportedly given a statement to Daily Telegraph newspaper of Australia, saying, “Australians looking up to dressing room for guidance was Smith incident today.” As per ICC rules, match officials cannot speak to media directly in an ongoing series.
Things got worse with Kohli also getting sarcastic over Nathan Lyon comparing getting Kohli's wicket akin to getting the head of the snake. “Everyone got along together, we showed the team spirit, and a lot of people were talking about the head of the snake, but I think the snake did pretty well by itself, so it’s not just about one individual. I’m pretty happy if they keep focussing on the head of the snake, and the snake can sting from a lot of directions. I think some people need to keep that in mind, but I thought [this was] the sweetest victory for us,” said Kohli.