Tensions rise as players lose cool
The unnatural calm that existed between these two teams evaporated in the Adelaide heat when the umpires had to intervene on at least two occasions to separate the squabbling players. David Warner and Virat Kohli were involved in both instances, but as pacifiers in one each. On day three, when Kohli was hit on the helmet, Warner was the first one to walk up to him and check on him.
The players lost their cool when Varun Aaron bowled Warner in the middle session on day four. Kohli had already been in the face of Chris Rogers when the opener had been dismissed. Now when Warner got out, both Kohli and Aaron gave him a bit of a send-off. It was the 34th over, Warner had already raced away to 66, and Australia were effectively 1 for 193. The send-off and the celebration didn't quite look on for the state India were in.
However, the umpires checked the replays and found out that Aaron had overstepped. Warner came back all happy and mocking the send-off, shouting "come on, come on". All hell broke loose. The not-out batsman, Shane Watson, and Shikhar Dhawan got into an altercation even as Kohli was trying to pacify Aaron and Warner. Warner shouted "come on" again as he left alone a delivery. That incensed the Indians some more. And when Warner crossed Aaron while taking a single, more pleasantries were exchanged, including a kiss blown by Warner to Aaron, who just didn't know how to react at being sledged by a batsman, a reversal of roles to which he didn't seem accustomed.
Later during the day, when Steven Smith had joined Warner, Rohit Sharma appealed for a leg-before when Smith had been miles down the wicket. It was by all accounts just a polite - albeit far-fetched - enquiry to the umpire, Marais Erasmus. Smith gave the Indians an incredulous look and shrugged, which for some reason made Rohit lose his cool. "What? What?" Rohit was heard asking Smith, who just kept smiling until he saw Kohli had left his station at first slip and planted himself mere inches from Smith. Angry words seem to fly until Warner walked all the way up to separate the two.
The umpires had to get involved again, and could be seen having a long chat with Kohli, followed by smaller ones during the next few over breaks. The rest of the day went largely incident-free, but it has the potential to sour the spirit in which the first three days were played. Both sides, though, sought to underplay what happened.
"I don't know if the temperature got to 40 degrees-plus, but it was getting to a few people out there," Warner said of the incidents. "When some decisions don't go your way, you get bowled off a no-ball, it's what happens in cricket. They're always going to come at you and come at you, and you've got to learn to bite your tongue a bit, and sometimes we don't."
Warner hinted at a history between the individuals that might have built up to this. Dhawan, for example, had mocked an injured Watson in an ODI in India last year with a deliberate limp in his walk. "Things happened in the past," he said. "Things happen in IPL as well. There are a few send-offs here and there. It was the last over of his spell, and he got another one the next over. He bowled pretty well, he bowled tight and he thought he deserved the reward. It is unlucky in cricket that you bowl no-balls."
Asked if all this didn't quite sit well with a side that had extended immediate concern towards Kohli when he was hit on day three, Warner sought to look at the two incidents as mutually exclusive. "Given the last week and a half it is quite tough when someone gets hit in the head," Warner said. "You sit back and you hope he is okay. That's what you have to do. We play the game within the spirit of the game, when we get tough we play tough. That's getting verbal. But when someone gets hurt you are always going to give him sympathy. You have to."
Ajinkya Rahane, who addressed the press conference on India's behalf, didn't see much wrong in what went on. He said it was "part and parcel" of the game when things get "competitive", and that the umpires did a good job in keeping things quiet.
Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo