Virat Kohli, Steve Smith long way from common ground ahead of third test
Steve Smith and Virat Kohli remain at loggerheads over the India captain's unfounded DRS cheating allegations that have produced one of the most tense build-ups to a Test match for many years.
The two nations have officially called a ceasefire, however the future of that truce is likely to hinge on an extraordinary meeting between the two captains and match referee Richie Richardson on Thursday morning. Match referees usually meet both skippers at the start of the series but rarely during one.
However, it will take plenty of diplomacy from Richardson, who has in recent years been the calm head during a turbulent time for West Indies cricket, for Smith and Kohli to find common ground. Both men may have pledged to make cricket the No.1 focus in the third Test, however the tension between the pair is palpable.
Having earlier slammed Kohli's claims of systematic DRS cheating as "completely wrong", Smith upped the ante when he addressed the Indian media, dismissing them as "complete rubbish".
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Kohli, however, is standing by his comments, refusing on three separate occasions to produce supporting evidence. He objected to a line of questioning from Fairfax Media when asked if it was appropriate for an international captain to make serious but unsubstantiated allegations in a press conference.
"What were the allegations? What is the allegation called?" Kohli said.
"It does [matter] because it has to be called something for me to be questioning something about someone to call it an allegation. If no charges were pressed against me, how are those allegations?
"As I said, we need to move on and focus on the game tomorrow.
"As I said, two sides to the coin, I could be speaking about it again, and things are not going to move forward."
Smith has flagged the possibility of quizzing Kohli, however the morning of a major Test is far from the ideal time for peace talks.
"We'll see what the mood's like at the time," Smith said. "Virat stuck by his comments. From my point of view, they're completely wrong.
"I came out after the game and said I made a mistake. It was an error on my behalf, I had a brain fade. In regards to saying we do it consistently is complete rubbish in my opinion. I think he was wrong in his statement."
Smith could not resist the temptation to fire a cheeky barb at Kohli, who had said there were two instances of Australia inappropriately using DRS while he was batting in Bangalore.
"I don't think he was out there long enough for two appeals," Smith said. "So he's entitled to his opinion, but from my point of view he's completely wrong."
Smith has already met with Richardson and the match officials where he was told to respect the spirit and traditions of the game. Richardson is likely to repeat the same message on game day.
"They said we want to see cricket as the winner in this Test match, both teams to play within the rules of the game," Smith said.
While relations between Australian and Indian players have improved due to the Indian Premier League, Kohli is far from the most popular man inside the Australian dressing room.
They respect him for being a great player and as a competitor, but have given little indication they hold Kohli the man in the same esteem.
"I guess we'll wait and see how the meeting goes," Smith said.
"As I said after last game, playing India versus Australia it's always fiery and there's always lots of emotions flying around.
"So we expect that from India, coming over here, we know how passionate they are and how much they want to do well in front of their 1.2 billion fans.
"For us, it's what we expected and we're going to have to deal with it in this game as well. That for us is making sure that we're playing on skill and not letting our emotions get in the way of anything."
- Sydney Morning Herald