The Indian and Australian boards may have called truce, but beneath the veneer of bonhomie that will be demonstrated through a photo session of the rival captains shaking hands ahead of the third Test in Ranchi, there is still plenty of tension.
After India’s complaint and skipper Virat Kohli’s comments against Australia skipper Steven Smith for seeking dressing room help over a review after his dismissal in the second Test in Bangalore had snowballed into a major controversy, the Indian board posted a video clip of Cheteshwar Pujara and R Ashwin boasting about their sledging of Australian opener David Warner on its website.
WARNER ASHWIN’S BUNNY
Warner has struggled to get going in the series – the four-match series is tied 1-1 -- where the pitches have demanded extra caution and not helped his stroke-play.
In the video clip, Pujara is seen claiming he kept reminding Warner of his poor record against Ashwin, who has claimed him nine times in 12 Tests.
Asked about it on Saturday, Warner said the Aussies wouldn’t stoop to India’s level by bringing on-field issues into the public domain.
“They came out and said they don’t sledge. I think it’s just banter. I don’t need to respond, not anymore,” Warner said. “I can only speak on behalf of our Australian cricket team and the way we approach the game and approach the off-fields. I’d be pretty upset if one of our players or staff did that.
“But at the end of the day there’s going to be a lot of niggles here and there around certain things and I think just a few people got out of hand.
“It’s just a rule of the cricketing world you keep everything on the field (on the Ashwin-Pujara video) … but that’s up to them. From our point of view, we’ll never do that.”
FORM DESERTS WARNER
The Australia vice-captain, whose two centuries played a key role in Australia’s 3-0 series whitewash of Pakistan at home before the India series, was expected to provide solid starts to the team. However, far from getting a century in this series, the dashing Aussie opener has not even aggregated 100 in four innings. He has 98 with a highest of 38.
Off-spinner Ashwin has got him three out of four times.
Warner’s failure has prevented Australia from cashing in on the excellent efforts by his inexperienced opening partner, Matt Renshaw, also a left-handed batsman. The 20-year-old provided decent starts in both Tests, scoring 68 and 60 in the first innings of the matches. With an aggregate of 164 at 41.00 he is only behind Smith (172, 43.00) among Australia batsmen in this series.
WARNER’S LIMITED PRAISE FOR ASHWIN
“He’s a fantastic bowler, he’s got a lot of wickets in his backyard and I have to respond to that,” Warner said of Ashwin. However, he claimed he is not reading too much into the number of times he has fallen to Ashwin.
“Broady’s (Stuart Broad) got me, (Dale) Steyn’s got me, everyone’s got you somewhere along the line,” he said. “As an opening batter you will face those guys all the time. Someone is going to have your measure if they’re going to bowl every second over at you. I just have to adapt.
“The only concern for me is the variable bounce – that’s always the challenging thing.”
CUMMINS TO STEP INTO STARC’S SHOES
The Aussies lost ace paceman Mitchell Starc to a foot stress fracture but Warner feels his replacement, young paceman Pat Cummins, will do well due to his pace.
“We know he’s got a lot of pace which he will definitely bring and that’s one thing we always talk about.”
The Ranchi Test begins on March 16, and though sparks are expected to fly, Warner promises a measured approach from the usually aggressive Australians.
“I think everyone has reined it in again and we’re looking forward to getting out to Ranchi and playing a great brand of cricket.
“At the end of the day, we’re professionals and you have to move on from that stuff. Hopefully both teams will come out and play with the spirit of cricket.”