There is a line that must not be crossed but once it has been crossed, then what?
It will be a much-discussed moment – the 80th over had just begun, the new ball had been taken and Pat Cummins was charging in, with Cheteshwar Pujara on strike.
Pujara defended the first ball easily. The second ball was an attempted yorker but Pujara converted it into a full toss and flicked it through mid-wicket for four. The third ball was short of length and on the pads. Pujara once again helped it along between mid-wicket and square leg.
Only this time, Glenn Maxwell gave chase. He charged after it, dived near the boundary line (just like Kohli), rolled nicely (not like Kohli) and saved a run (not like Kohli). Great cricket. Then, things got a little ugly. He got up, jumped over the boundary line, gave it some thought and mockingly clutched his right shoulder.
That desperate dive also ensured that Kohli, not Pujara, was on strike for the next ball. Then, Cummins produced the coup de grâce.
Kohli shaped for the drive but only ended up edging the ball to Steve Smith at second slip. The Australian skipper celebrated the dismissal by hurling a few choice words in Kohli’s direction.
The Aussies – well, just Maxwell – were mocking Kohli’s injury and the commentators caught onto it quickly. VVS Laxman and Aakash Chopra felt that there was a line to be drawn – there are a few things that must never be done. On Twitter, Indian and Aussie fans quickly rushed to take the higher moral ground. Well, Mitch Johnson even incinerated someone.
But really given all that we have seen in the series so far, can either side complain anymore?
Even before the series began – Smith made it clear… the Aussies are going to sledge. Kohli, on this part, responded in kind. The battle lines were drawn pretty early and both teams have consciously pushed the envelope. There has been a constant ratcheting up of the sledging stakes – so much so that it has come to a point where the two captains avoided eye contact at the toss before the start of the Ranchi Test.
India didn’t help matters when none of them clapped when Smith reached his century – even though Ajinkya Rahane did shake his hand at the close of play. Kohli, sitting in the dressing room, also thought it was okay to applaud the lack of Australia’s DRS appeals when they had a huge appeal against Pujara.
The Aussie response wasn’t great but at the end of the day, you reap what sow. India and Australia have both been pretty childish about this. We can’t suddenly expect them to grow up and treat the matter with any sort of maturity.
In fact, the outrage is funny. Just what are we outraging?
In the past, Shikhar Dhawan did something very similar to Shane Watson and Mahendra Singh Dhoni called a stop to it. But if Kohli and Smith are going to encourage their players to have a go at the opposition at every available occasion, expect such madness to occur regularly.
Before the match, Kohli had spoken about the need to get the focus back on the cricket. But given the way both skippers have acted, they clearly have been unable to focus solely on the game itself. The umpires haven’t said anything – which also perhaps indicates just how worthless the entire debate is.
When Australia come out to bat, you can also be sure that Kohli will want to pay the Aussies back in the same coin. So instead of trying to figure out which team was worse in the mocking stakes, let’s just try and win a game a cricket. On last count, that was hard enough on it’s own.