Steve Smith appeared to accuse Murali Vijay of cheating after the India fielder claimed a grounded catch during the Test series decider in Dharamsala.
Footage captured Smith seemingly mouthing “f***ing cheat” after a controversial incident that marred the tense third day of the high-stakes contest.
— Neroli Meadows (@Neroli_M_FOX) March 27, 2017
Australia will almost certainly hand the Border-Gavaskar trophy back to India on day four, with the hosts 0-19 after being set a target of just 106 runs.
The top-ranked Test side are in a strong position to push for a victory that will give them a 2-1 series win, capping six weeks of drama, comebacks, controversies and twists.
The latest spark came after Vijay snaffled a low slips catch, completing what seemed to be the final wicket to fall in Australia’s second innings.
The opener sprinted off the field to pad up, but had to return when third umpire Chris Gaffaney ruled the ball scraped the turf.
Cameras showed Smith, on the balcony of Australia’s change room, expressing disbelief about the veteran’s conduct.
India’s injured skipper Virat Kohli, who all but accused Australia of systematically cheating by looking to support staff for illegal advice on reviews during the second Test, shook his head after Gaffaney made his decision.
It will brew further bad blood between the sides, but won’t have any bearing on the result. The visitors failed to add another run after the reprieve that came at 9-137.
Smith’s side have fought incredibly hard with bat and ball throughout all four Tests, but their bid for the nation’s second Test series win in India since 1969 came unstuck on moving day of the final game.
It started with India resuming at 6-248. Ravindra Jadeja swung momentum his side’s way, slapping six boundaries in a plucky knock of 63 that pushed the hosts to a total of 332.
Australia folded for 137 in response. Collapses of 3-21, 2-5 and 3-1 almost certainly put paid to their hopes of winning.
Defeat will be hard for every member of the touring party to stomach, but especially Smith. The skipper is likely to finish the leading run-scorer of the series with 499 runs.
Smith, as has been his wont during a record-breaking three centuries in the series, looked to be batting on a different pitch to teammates on Monday.
The classy right-hander raced to 17 in 14 balls before attempting to pull an unthreatening delivery that was floated up outside off stump. The resultant bottom edge dislodged off stump.
Smith, David Warner and Matt Renshaw all departed during inspired new-ball spells from Umesh Yadav and Bhuvneshwar Kumar.
Shaun Marsh, restricted by a jarred back, only came out to bat when Peter Handscomb fell on 18 during the penultimate over of a chaotic post-lunch session on Monday. Tea was called when Marsh popped up a catch to short leg off the bowling of Jadeja.
Tensions continue to bubble on the field
Vijay was one of many members of the Indian side to swap barbs with Matthew Wade.
It isn’t the first time a catch has sparked a row between the sides.
Anil Kumble, now serving as India’s coach, was filthy after Michael Clarke claimed a low slips catch during a heated finish to the SCG Test in 2008.
“Only one team was playing with the spirit of the game, that’s all I can say,” Kumble said.
Ricky Ponting also raged after the match that started the ‘monkeygate’ saga.
“There’s no way I grounded that ball. If you’re actually questioning my integrity in the game, then you shouldn’t be standing there,” Ponting told an Indian journalist, who asked about a catch Australia’s skipper claimed.