Indian cricket team batting coach Vikram Rathour said Rishabh Pant wasn’t aware of the pitch scuffing incident. Australia batsman Steve Smith was caught on stump camera scuffing up the batting area before Pant could take the guard.
Rathour said it didn’t affect Pant’s batting and hence they had no idea something like this had happened. The India wicketkeeper-batsman went on to score 97 runs in the second innings of the Sydney Test.
“Basically, we didn’t even know about the incident. We knew only after the game when the media picked it up. As a batsman, Rishabh Pant wasn’t even aware. I wouldn’t like to comment as it hardly mattered,” Rathour said on the eve of the final Test.
Smith was labeled as a ‘cheat’ and his sportsmanship was doubted on social media. He was not expecting such over-reaction to the incident and it shocked him.
“I have been quite shocked and disappointed by the reaction to this. It’s something I do in games to visualize where we are bowling, how the batter is playing our bowlers and then out of habit I always mark center,” Smith told the Daily Telegraph, as reported by Fox Sports.
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Australia captain Tim Paine had backed Smith and said he always does this in every game and there was no intention to change the guard of Pant.
“I have spoken to Steve about it. He is really disappointed with the way it has come across. If you watch Steve Smith play Test cricket that is something he does every single game five or six times a day. He does this a lot. He is always in the batting crease batting. As we know he has those many Steve Smith quirks. One of them is that he was always marking centre. He was certainly not changing Pant’s guard,” Paine said in a virtual press conference.
“I imagine if he was the Indian players would have kicked up a bit of a stink at the time. I have seen Steve do it many times in Tests and games I have played against him. He likes to visualize how he is going to play. Yesterday you could see him up there playing shots as a left-hander to where he wanted Lyon to pitch the ball,” he added.
India and Australia currently stand equal in the series with one win each and the series decider will be played at Gabba, Brisbane on January 15.
(With ANI Inputs)