Switching focus to cricket
Time to focus on cricket -- that was the crisp and clear message from the Indian team’s Head Coach Anil Kumble on Tuesday.
Having surprised India in Pune, Australia had positioned themselves to take an unbeatable lead in the second Test at Chinnaswamy before the hosts pulled things level in dramatic fashion. The win, however, was hijacked by the controversy surrounding Steve Smith’s DRS move – where he appeared to seek help from his team-mates in making up his mind on referral -- after his second-innings’ dismissal.
The frayed tempers following accusations and counters from the Indian and the Australian camps appear to be cooling down now. In that sense, the eight-day gap between the second and the third Test couldn’t have come at a better time for both teams.
Having spent the week away from game, both India and Australia held their first practice session here on Tuesday at the JSCA Stadium which will become India’s newest Test venue in a couple of days. The break would have helped them remove all the bad blood and come back reinvigorated for the third match.
Of course the Board of Control for Cricket in India and Cricket Australia made the first move in restoring normalcy by holding a discussion when things seemed to be spiralling out of control.
The scheduled meeting between Aussie skipper Smith and his Indian counterpart Virat Kohli -- the two main characters in the current imbroglio between the two teams -- ahead of the third Test here from Thursday, will mark another significant step towards restoring the primacy of cricket in a series that has been fought on an even keel.
“I think what was important was to bring the focus back on cricket,” said Kumble here on Tuesday. “I am really glad that the BCCI took a mature call along with Cricket Australia to issue a joint statement that cricket needs to move on and we have moved on from whatever happened. That’s really important because focus obviously has to be on the game and I think we made a fantastic comeback in the second Test after losing the first Test -- especially on day two and day three (of the second Test), they were ahead and to comeback from there and win a Test match was rewarding,” he reasoned.
While maintaining that he wouldn’t want any let-up in India’s intensity and aggression that they showed in the second Test, the former India captain stressed that as custodians of this game, players need to look after it.
Kumble isn’t a stranger to such volatile situations. He was the captain of the Indian team during the Monkey-gate episode, which had pushed the relations between the countries to the brink. His tough but delicate handling of the situation arising out of an acrimonious Sydney Test had won him many plaudits.
The leg-spinning great had then splendidly rallied the team to an inspirational win in the next Test at Perth. “You don’t want to curb any natural instincts of the players,” Kumble stressed. “As long as they go out there and do what is expected of them, there are absolutely no issues with that. I don’t think we need to read too much into that aggression or body language. But every player has his own way of having a game face and that’s what you want. It’s an international sport and you want everyone to go out there and show what they are capable of.
“This is a very important series, it is one-all and obviously both teams will come hard in this game and I am sure cricket will be the winner. As custodians of this great game, we believe that it is important that we look after the game. The key stakeholders are the players and they certainly understand the responsibility on the field,” he elaborated.
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