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Kohli ‘talking rubbish’— Smith

Australia’s captain Steve Smith catches the ball during a training session at Jharkhand State Cricket Association Stadium, Ranchi, India, Wednesday. — Reuters
Australia’s captain Steve Smith catches the ball during a training session at Jharkhand State Cricket Association Stadium, Ranchi, India, Wednesday. — Reuters

RANCHI, India — Australian skipper Steve Smith accused his Indian counterpart Virat Kohli of talking “absolute rubbish” Wednesday despite efforts to bring an end to the archrivals’ bitter war of words.

After Kohli said on the eve of the third Test that he had no regrets over accusing Australia of systematically abusing the decision review system (DRS) in their last match in Bangalore, Smith angrily denied that he was guilty of more than a momentary lapse.

While the International cricket Council (ICC) is set to hold clear-the-air talks between the two men, the new exchanges are likely to complicate their efforts to broker peace between the top two-ranked Test teams.

Virat Kohli
Virat Kohli

Kohli’s accusations last week had plunged the teams’ often tense ties back into crisis mode, with Australia’s board calling his comments “outrageous”, prompting an equally robust response from the Indian camp.

Speaking to reporters ahead of the third Test in Ranchi, Kohli said his focus was now on the cricket but he refused to back down on his claims against Smith.

“I don’t regret anything that I have said but at the same time it’s very important not to be stupid and go on about the same thing on a daily basis,” said Kohli.

India was furious when Smith was spotted looking up at his dressing-room for guidance in Bangalore on whether to seek a review of the umpire’s decision after being given out lbw — a clear breach of the DRS rules.

While Smith called the incident on the fourth and final day a one-off, Kohli said after the match that it had been going on for days.

Asked Wednesday about Kohli’s latest comments, Smith said he was keen to move things on but still snapped back at his counterpart.

“Virat obviously stuck by his comments. From my point of view they are completely wrong. I obviously came out of the game and said I made a mistake,” Smith told reporters.

“In regards that we do it consistently is absolute rubbish in my opinion. I think he was wrong in his statement.”

While Smith did reveal that he had met match referee Richie Richardson, there has so far been no clear-the-air meeting between the two skippers. The four-match series is tantalizingly poised at 1-1.

“Both Virat and I are meeting with Richie ahead of the game tomorrow. I think it will be a similar sort of thing with Richie ensuring that we are both here to play the game of cricket,” he added.

Smith said he expected the pitch in Ranchi to start breaking up from day two.

Smith said the wicket at Ranchi, which is hosting its first-ever Test from Thursday, looked dry from the outset.

“It was a little bit drier than it was yesterday. The groundsmen were pretty keen to get the covers back pretty quickly, so it doesn’t see much sun,” Smith said.

“It will play reasonably well the first day. I don’t think there will be a great deal of bounce. I think it will shoot quite low. Then from there it will break up as the game wears on.

“So 22 yards and both teams have to play on it. Hopefully we can just do a little bit better,” Smith added.

“We have plans in place for these kind of wickets where there is not much bounce… Hopefully we can adapt and execute our skills in this Test match,” he added.

Pat Cummins is expected to replace injured Australia pace spearhead Mitchell Starc — and play his first test in more than six years — and Glenn Maxwell is considered favorite ahead of Marcus Stoinis to fill up the vacant No. 6 spot created when allrounder Mitchell Marsh had the leave the tour to have shoulder surgery. For India, opener Murali Vijay is fit again and is expected to reclaim his spot from Abhinav Mukund. India could continue with six batsmen and retain Karun Nair.

After the match in Ranchi, the series reaches its climax in Dharamsala in a match starting on March 25.