India vs Australia: Tensions rise ahead of third Test
Hosts accused of pitch doctoring as row between Virat Kohli and Steve Smith rumbles on
There is no sign of the bad blood between India and Australia letting up ahead of the third and final Test of their series, which starts this week in Ranchi, with the tourists furious at the state of the pitch and the war of words between captains Virat Kohli and Steve Smith rumbling on.
The series is delicately poised at 1-1 after India lost its four-year unbeaten home run in the first Test and then recovered from an apparently hopeless position to win the second.
A series of verbal clashes on the field saw that game end in acrimony and there was even more controversy when Kohli appeared to accuse his opposite number of cheating after the Australian skipper was caught apparently asking for help from the dressing room on whether to review an LBW decision.
Smith later described his actions as a "brain fade" and said it was not part of a plan, despite Kohli's assertion that it was not the first time the Australians had done this.
The two captains are likely to discuss the various allegations before play on the first day of the third Test, says Cricinfo.
If that does not inflame proceedings, the state of the wicket should. "Australia have walked into an India-endorsed stitch up as suspicion grows the hosts have been delivered a tailor-made wicket designed to blunt Australia's pace weapons and dull the effect of Nathan Lyon," writes Andrew Wu of the Sydney Morning Herald.
Ben Horne of the Australian Daily Telegraph called it the "dodgiest deck" of the series so far, adding: "Pitch doctoring has now gone to another level and the reputation and integrity of Indian cricket is on the brink of complete embarrassment."
Against that backdrop, the match will be the "most significant" of Smith's captaincy and the biggest between the two cricketing heavyweights for a decade, says Adam Collins of The Guardian.
"Spot fires are smouldering, with neither captain ceding an inch in the aftermath of Bangalore. All to be played on a surface the like these Australians have never seen before. Where's the popcorn?"