Steve Smith has come under fire for appearing to remove Rishabh Pant’s batting guard marks from the crease in an attempt to derail the Indian keeper’s stellar innings on Day 5 at the SCG.
Pant’s impressive 97 off 118 had all hopes for a cruisy final day Australian victory in tatters by the second session, as he and partner Cheteshwar Pujara whittled the host’s total of 407 to within 150 runs.
While Australia pulled out all the stops to contain the partnership, the flamboyant stroke-making of 23-year-old Pant had Tim Paine’s men at panic stations as he knocked spinner Nathan Lyon for three sixes before falling shy of a ton.
But it’s now clear just how worried the Australian’s were of a potential match-winning Indian run-chase after footage emerged following the drawn match which appeared to show Smith attempting to scuff up Pant’s batting marks.
Smith was caught on the stump camera allegedly scuffing up the guard mark of the Indian keeper-batsman during a drinks break, where he wandered over to the crease and began to shadow bat.
He then turned around and appeared to scrape away Pant’s markers before the youngster returned to the crease and appeared to motion to the umpire to help him find them again.
Smith’s face was not caught in the footage, however, his No.49 jersey number is clearly visible.
The incident has sparked backlash from Indian fans, but has also drawn the ire of former Indian opener Virender Sehwag who was the first to call out the Aussie batsman.
“Tried all tricks including Steve Smith trying to remove Pant’s batting guard marks from the crease,” Sehwag tweeted alongside footage of the incident.
“But I am so so proud of the effort of the Indian team today.”
Former England cricketer David Lloyd also weighed in, labeling Smith’s actions “childish”.