RANCHI: Bitter rivals India and Australia resume their battle for Test supremacy on Thursday in Ranchi at the start of the third match in a series that has already dragged relations close to breaking point.
India won the second Test in Bangalore to leave the series tantalisingly poised at 1-1 but simmering tensions boiled over when the hosts’ captain accused his opposite number of abusing the decision review system (DRS).
The International Cricket Council, which decided not to punish either Virat Kohli or Steve Smith over the flare-up, has called the two skippers together for clear-the-air talks ahead of the match.
But former players on both sides have again been stirring things up ahead of Ranchi, a match in which India must avoid defeat if they want to win back the Border-Gavaskar trophy.
Australia’s hopes suffered a double blow last week when all-rounder Mitchell Marsh and pace spearhead Mitchell Starc were ruled out of the last two Test with injuries.
India’s concerns are centred on the form of Kohli who has totalled just 40 runs in the series after scoring double centuries in the last four Test series.
The meeting between Smith and Kohli was agreed to by their respective boards amid warnings the series risked degenerating into anarchy.
India were furious when Smith was spotted looking up at his dressing-room for guidance on whether to seek a review of the umpire’s decision after being given out lbw – a clear breach of the DRS rules.