Smith says Kohli comments 'completely wrong'
Steven Smith has challenged Virat Kohli's suggestion that Australia broke DRS protocols repeatedly in the second Test in Bengaluru, describing some of Kohli's post-match statements as "disappointing" and "completely wrong". Kohli, speaking ahead of the third Test in Ranchi, stood by his claims while remaining elusive about what those claims actually constituted.
After the Test, the BCCI made a complaint to the ICC concerning an incident when Smith looked to the Australian dressing room when considering whether or not to use the DRS on an lbw call, before umpire Nigel Llong intervened. The BCCI withdrew the complaint later on the same day after a meeting between the BCCI and Cricket Australia.
While more than a week has elapsed since India's victory in Bengaluru, Kohli's suggestion that he saw something similarly inappropriate on two occasions other than the Smith lbw has clearly left Smith concerned.
Speaking publicly for the first time since Kohli's press conference, Smith said: "It was a little bit disappointing. I think that obviously I made a mistake and I came out and said that. What I did was wrong and I know that.
"But that was the first time it has happened. I know as a team we don't do that. And I think his comments... I think he said that we did it twice while he was out there. I don't think he was out there long enough for two appeals. He's entitled to his opinion, but from my point of view he's completely wrong."
Kohli refused to elaborate on the specific occasions he had referred to in his post-match remarks, insisting he wanted to move on and focus on the remaining two Tests without any lingering "bad taste". But he was also adamant that his words were not emotionally driven in the wake of an often-heated contest.
"I think about what I say," Kohli said in Ranchi. "I don't regret anything that I've said, but at the same time it's very important not to be stupid and go on with the same things on a daily basis because there's cricket to be played. There was a decent break in between, and we certainly don't' want to sit and think about one issue all the time.
"We have two Test matches to play and that's what we need to focus on. And I think it was a mature decision on everyone's part to move on from that. We've seen instances in the past stretch too long and it just causes disharmony and there's no outcome honestly.
"We just need to focus on the games that are left. I think it's good for everybody that everyone moves on because you'll always have two sides of the coin; one side will say one thing the other side will say another and that just takes the focus away from the game that we all are sitting here because of. So I think it's best interests of everyone that we move on and focus on the game."
In an exchange with a journalist, Kohli doggedly deflected questions on his post-match comments. As in Bengaluru, Kohli could not be pinned down on the specifics of what he saw on the field.
When asked if it was "appropriate for an international captain make serious allegations like that and not produce evidence to substantiate it", Kohli replied: "What were the allegations?" Pressed further by the journalist, Kohli wanted to know "what is the allegation called", adding that since he was not charged with any violation, what he had said could not be termed an allegation. "Because it has to be called something for me to be questioning something about someone to call it an allegation," he said. "If no charges were pressed against me, how are those allegations?"
Asked once more if he stood by his statement that there were two instances when he was batting when Australia flouted DRS protocols, and told there was no evidence to back this up, Kohli said: "As I said, we need to move on and focus on the game tomorrow and we have two more Test Matches to go. As I said, two sides to the coin, I could be speaking about it again and things are not going to move forward. Everyone sitting here has their own interests and choose to ask what they want to. But our focus remains on the game and we need to look forward."
Smith said he would like to seek clarification from Kohli on his comments when the two captains meet jointly with match referee, Richie Richardson, before play on the first day in Ranchi. Specifically, Smith would like to know which two other incidents Kohli was referring to.
"Perhaps, might be able to ask a few questions. We'll see what the mood's like at the time," Smith said. "Virat obviously stuck by his comments. From my point of view I think they're completely wrong. I came out after the game and said I made a mistake. It was an error on my behalf, I had a brain fade. In regards to saying that we do it consistently, that's complete rubbish in my opinion. I think he was wrong in his statement."
Smith said he had already met with match referee Richardson personally, ahead of Australia's final training session on match eve. He said Richardson made it clear he expected both sides to play within the boundaries of the game so that "cricket was the winner in this Test".
Melinda Farrell is a presenter with ESPNcricinfo