India captain Virat Kohli has devised a cunning plan to avoid overstepping the line when it comes to on-field behaviour during the Third Test against Australia in Ranchi. The brilliant Kohli has spent the majority of the crucial clash in the dressing sheds, away from the fiery crucible and the direct scrutiny of the umpires and match officials.
Ugly scenes during the Second Test between Kohli and the Australian players had past legends of the game calling for something to be done before the verbal conflict went too far. Ian Chappell, one often credited with ramping up sledging during his captaincy, ironically warned of the potential problems, in a column written for my old friends at the Wide World of Sport.
“The administrators are foolish if they’re going to allow all this talking to continue on the field,” Chappell said. “If it does, there’s going to be trouble.”
The administrators did exactly nothing following the Second Test, so the brilliant Kohli took it upon himself to get the situation under control. Unable to tone down his natural aggression and passion for a heated battle, Kohli decided to keep himself as far from the situation as possible.
Early in the Australian innings, Kohli chased and dived for a ball racing towards the boundary. He rose to his feet clutching at his shoulder, and strategically trudged to the dressing sheds. He would remain there for the rest of the innings, wisely avoiding many potential fiery exchanges with the Australians. His nemesis and opposite number Steve Smith was at the crease for an uncomfortably long time, so the potential for conflict was extreme.
During the Indian first innings Kohli was seen displaying his joy at an Australian DRS review gone wrong. High in the stands, he was able to avoid direct conflict and the scrutiny of the officials.
He came to the crease at the fall of the second Indian wicket, after his shoulder had enough time to recover, with the score at a promising 193. He stayed long enough to see the introduction of the second new ball before playing a slips practice shot directly to his old mate Steve Smith. He spent only 10 overs out in the middle, before wisely removing himself from the scene of any potential conflagration.
This battle for the Border-Gavaskar trophy will go down as one of the most hard-fought and intriguing Test series in recent memory. With the series level at one Test a piece and the Third Test evenly poised, the outcome is anyone’s guess. One thing is for certain, we all have the wisdom of Virat Kohli to thank for preventing it from spiralling into an ugly, vile, spiteful war of words.