India's captain Virat Kohli has said that Australia crossed the line "that you don't cross on a cricket field" when it comes to DRS protocols. Kohli accused Australia of taking help from the dressing room on at least three occasions before making their mind up on reviews in the Bengaluru Test.
Kohli's remarks after India's remarkable come-from-behind win were reminiscent of current coach Anil Kumble's words at the conclusion of the infamous Sydney Test in 2007-08: "Only one team was playing in the spirit of the game."
Minutes before Kohli's press conference, unaware of the allegations coming his way, Australia's captain Steven Smith had said that there had been only one instance of their looking up to the dressing room for assistance, and that it was a "brain fade". Kohli said he had made the umpires aware of it on the earlier two occasions before the third one played out in full view.
When Smith was ruled out lbw in a tense chase of 188, he looked towards the dressing room after having chatted with non-striker Peter Handscomb, apparently for clues on whether to review the call or not. Umpire Nigel Llong intervened immediately, and sent him on his way. Llong also prevented a seemingly livid Kohli from getting into that conversation. Kohli later said he had brought this matter to the umpires' attention earlier too.
"I saw that two times happening when I was batting out there," Kohli said. "I pointed it out to the umpire as well, that it's happened twice, that I've seen their players looking upstairs for confirmation, and that's why the umpire was at him.
"When he turned back the umpire knew exactly what was going on, because we observed that, we told match referee also, and the umpires, that they've been doing that for the last three days and this has to stop, because there's a line that you don't cross on the cricket field, because sledging and playing against the opponents is different, but… I don't want to mention the word, but it falls in that bracket. I would never do something like that on the cricket field."
When asked if the word he didn't want to mention was "cheating", Kohli replied: "I didn't say that, you did."
Smith's version of events was different. "I got hit on the pad and looked down to Petey and he said look up there," Smith said. "So I turned around and it was a bit of a brain fade on my behalf. I shouldn't have done that.
"I was looking at our boys, so shouldn't have done that and it was a bit of a brain fade."
Writing on Twitter after the match, Handscomb accepted the blame for the incident. "I referred smudga to look at the box... my fault and was unaware of the rule," he wrote. "Shouldn't take anything away from what was an amazing game!"
I referred smudga to look at the box... my fault and was unaware of the rule. Shouldn't take anything away from what was an amazing game!
— Peter Handscomb (@phandscomb54) March 7, 2017
Kohli, though, refused to accept Smith's explanation. "Honestly, if someone makes a mistake while batting, for me, personally, that's a brain fade," Kohli said. "The way I left the ball in Pune, you know, getting hit on the off stump. That was a brain fade. But if something is going on for three days, then that's not a brain fade, as simple as that.
"I don't want to say more on that, videos are out there for everyone to see. It was getting repetitive, that's why the umpires also knew that it might happen again. I saw it two times when I was batting, I can vouch for that."
The official BCCI Twitter handle, though, went on to say more. It tweeted the video of Smith's dismissal, the accompanying tweet wondering if the full form of DRS was "dressing room review system".
Smith denied that his side used help from the dressing room as a DRS tactic. He insisted his dismissal was the first time he looked up to the dressing room. "No, I think that's probably the first time it's happened, and it was a brain fade on my behalf," he said.
There were an increasing number of verbal exchanges throughout the Test. Smith admitted to there being a "white line fever", but he felt the match was played "in good spirit".
"Australia and India playing, there's always emotions flying around and we get a little bit of white line fever every now and then," Smith said. "As long as it's kept on the field it's all good. There's always interesting banter between the two teams, and I think it makes it a great contest."
Kohli also hit back at former Australia wicketkeeper, Ian Healy, who had earlier criticised Kohli's behaviour during Australia's first innings, particularly when Smith was at the crease.
"I'm losing respect for him. He's not only now continuing his disrespect of the Australian players and umpires, but I think he's putting pressure on his own players," Healy told radio station SEN on Monday. "The stuff he did with Steve Smith was unacceptable.
"There's massive cracks showing in [Kohli]. I've said in the past he's the best batsman I've ever seen. His feistiness and real aggression towards the opposition has been good [in the past], especially when he wasn't captain."
Kohli responded by pointing out Healy's reaction to being wrongly given out in the Centurion Test in 1997 - swearing as he walked off, Healy then threw his bat while climbing the steps to the dressing room.
"[I'll lose respect] in his eyes?" Kohli asked dismissively. "We've got 1.2 billion people in India. One person doesn't make a difference to my life. And also I think you should go and search on YouTube, when he was given out in Centurion, down the leg side. I heard he said something about me not having good behaviour with umpires - I think you all should YouTube that video and I think, yeah, that says it all. Just see that video and next time you ask me the same question."