Team India's batting coach Vikram Rathour has revealed that the visitors had absolutely no idea about Steve Smith allegedly scuffing left-hander Rishabh Pant's guard marks during Day 5 of the third Test at the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG).
Smith had to face the heat of many Indian fans and former cricketers when a video of him allegedly scuffing up the guard marks during a drinks break went viral on social media.
Australian skipper Tim Paine and off-spinner Nathan Lyon came out in support of the 31-year-old, claiming that he had the habit of shadow batting while fielding.
However, in the post-match video conference, Vikram Rathour stated that no one among the Indian team, including Pant himself, had a clue about this incident involving Steve Smith.
"Basically we didn't even know about that (Steve Smith) incident. Only after the game and after the media picked it up, we noticed. As a batsman, Rishabh wasn't even aware actually. So I won't point it out because as a batsman he was not even aware that it was done," Vikram Rathour said.
Our bowlers worked on specific plans against Steve Smith: Vikram Rathour
Team India were successful in keeping Steve Smith quiet for the majority of the first two Tests through some brilliant planning. The 31-year-old could score only 10 runs from his first four innings in the ongoing series.
However, Steve Smith came out all guns blazing at the SCG, making scores of 131 and 81 in the two innings. He even dominated his nemesis in the series, off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin.
"We all know he (Steve Smith) is a good player. Our bowlers have been working on specific plans against him and against all the other batters of the Australian cricket team. So they have worked so far," Vikram Rathour asserted.
However, Rathour stressed that the team management is still backing the plans that they have put in place for the 31-year-old, despite his Sydney exploits. They believe in the ability of the Indian bowlers and are hopeful that the visitors will be able to get the better of Steve Smith in Brisbane. Rathour said in this regard:
"In the last game, he scored some runs yes, but we still back our plans. Whatever the bowlers have been discussing among themselves, we will still back those plans and hope we will get him out in this game (cheaply)."
While the threat of Steve Smith looms large on Team India after his exploits at the SCG, the injury-ravaged visitors also have problems of their own.
Numerous crucial players have already been ruled out, and the likes of Jasprit Bumrah and Mayank Agarwal are doubtful for the fourth Test.
Can a depleted Team India find some inspiration to beat the Aussies on their favourite hunting ground? That still remains to be seen as the action resumes on January 15.Published 14 Jan 2021, 15:22 IST