NEW DELHI: Warring captains Virat Kohli and Steve Smith will hold peace talks in an effort to defuse the tension which has torpedoed the ongoing Test series between bitter rivals India and Australia.
As part of a patch-up deal hammered out Thursday, Smith and Kohli are expected to meet ahead of the third Test in Ranchi starting March 16 in a bid to put the focus back on cricket.
The announcement came as the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) filed and then later agreed to withdraw its complaint with the International Cricket Council (ICC) against Smith and batsman Peter Handscomb over the DRS controversy which plunged the second Test into turmoil.
“The BCCI and Cricket Australia (CA) have resolved to restore focus on the ongoing series amidst the increased attention towards issues which have emanated during the course of the second Test match in Bangalore,” the joint statement said. “BCCI will withdraw the complaint filed with ICC with an expectation that the two captains will meet prior to the Ranchi Test.”
CA’s chief executive James Sutherland and BCCI boss Rahul Johri met in Mumbai on Thursday to iron out the differences between the two sides.
“In discussing the relevant issues in depth, we have agreed that it is in the best interests of the game to put these differences aside and clear the way for the focus to be on the cricket, and the remaining matches of the series,” said Sutherland.
For his part, Johri said India has always cherished the contest with Australia over the years.
“While having responded officially to one such incident which happened in the last Test, together, we believe that the focus of the teams and the joy they provide to the fans, should not be diluted and it is imperative to ensure that the rest of the series, which promises a great cricketing contest, not be compromised,” said Johri.
Kohli had accused Smith of abusing the Decision Review System (DRS), after he was seen looking to the Australian dressing-room while considering appealing against his dismissal for lbw in the second Test.
The rules forbid players to consult with anyone off the pitch about whether to seek a review from the umpires, particularly as support staff have access to television replays in the dressing-room.
At the post-match press conference, Smith — who was quickly waved off the field by the umpire — admitted he had been at fault, but put it down to a one-off “brain-fade”.
But an angry Kohli said that it was not an isolated incident and the visitors had been following a systematic approach in reviews during the Bangalore Test.
Handscomb later admitted to have misled his captain while suggesting to look upwards for help on the fourth day of the Test at Bangalore’s M Chinnaswamy Stadium.
While Australian bosses threw their weight behind Smith with Sutherland calling the charges as “outrageous”, the BCCI also backed Kohli urging ICC to take cognizance of the matter.
The ICC though decided to take no action against Smith and Kohli, a decision which saw the governing body branded as “gutless” in Indian media.
The series is tantalisingly poised at 1-1 with the hosts squaring the rubber in Bangalore.