New Delhi: India skipper Virat Kohli's slamming of Australian captain Steven Smith for apparently seeking the Australian dressing room's signal for asking for the Decision Review Syestem (DRS) during the second Test in Bengaluru, was fuelled after both the cricket boards and former greats sided with their captains.
Kohli and Smith were involved in a heated exchange during Australia's second innings after Smith was adjudged lbw by the umpire off an Umesh Yadav delivery.
Smith appeared gesturing towards the Australian dressing room, apparently seeking advice before deciding whether to invoke the DRS against the umpire's ruling. That prompted Kohli to challenge Smith, resulting in an altercation between the duo.
India won the second Test by 75 runs to level the four-match series 1-1 following a second innings collapse of Australia to a mere 112 runs.
There was some respite for the two captains after the International Cricket Committee (ICC) announced that it will not take any action against Kohli and Smith for their actions during the second Test.
"The ICC has considered both incidents in the context of this match and concluded it will be taking no further action against either player," the ICC said in a statement.
"The ICC has confirmed that no charges have been laid against any player under the ICC Code of Conduct following the second Test match between India and Australia in Bengaluru."
"Specifically in relation to Steve Smith and Virat Kohli, the ICC has considered both incidents in the context of this match and concluded it will be taking no further action against either player," the statement added.
Pointing out that the players were emotionally charged up during a highly competitive game, ICC Chief Executive David Richardson stressed that match officials and the captains of both teams must try to avoid such situations during the next Test in Ranchi.
"We have just witnessed a magnificent game of Test cricket where players from both teams gave their all and emotions were running high during and after the match," Richardson said.
"We would encourage both teams to focus their energies on the third Test in Ranchi next week. Ahead of that, the match referee will bring both captains together to remind them of their responsibilities to the game."
Earlier in the day, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) released a detailed statement urging the ICC to intervene just after Cricket Australia (CA) chief James Sutherland hit back at the allegation against Smith as "outrageous".
The 28-year-old Kohli had on Tuesday stopped just short of accusing the visitors of cheating, claiming that they had repeatedly looked to the dressing room for DRS advice, which Smith defended by terming it a "brain fade".
"There's a line that you don't cross on the cricket field, sledging and playing against the opponents is different. I don't want to mention the word, but it falls into that bracket. I would never do something like that on the cricket field," Kohli said, adding that he had approached the match referee to oppose Smith's gesturing to the Dressing Room.
Kohli's comments drew sharp criticism from the Australian side with Sutherland outrightly rejecting the charge against Smith as "outrageous".
"I find the allegations questioning the integrity of Steve Smith, the Australian Team and the dressing room, outrageous," Sutherland said.
"Steve is an outstanding cricketer and person, and role model to many aspiring cricketers and we have every faith that there was no ill-intent in his actions."
"We reject any commentary that suggests our integrity was brought into disrepute or that systemic unfair tactics are used, and stand by Steve and the Australian Cricketers who are proudly representing our country," he added.
Australia head coach Darren Lehmann also threw his weight behind the embattled skipper, saying: "Never, ever, ever. Very surprised to hear that, but it's their opinion. He (Kohli) has his opinion and we have ours, but at the end of the day, we play the game the right way."
"We've changed the way we want to play, we've obviously changed the side and we're a younger side, so I'm pretty pleased with the way we do things now. We've never done any of that, so we'll just get on with the next game," he added.
Former Aussie skipper Steve Waugh also came to Smith's defence, saying: "It was a fantastic Test match. It's a shame we are focussing on one incident. I would go with what Steve has said. I would take him on face value."
"The best part was umpires stepped in and stopped at then and there. Looking back, Smith will be embarrassed and must have learnt a lesson," Waugh added.
On the other hand, the Indian board also came to Kohli's defence and requested the ICC to take cognizance of the fact that Smith in his press conference admitted to a "brain fade" at that moment.
"The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) after due deliberation and seeing the video replays of the episode steadfastly stands with the Indian cricket team and its captain Virat Kohli," the board said in a statement.
"Virat Kohli is a mature and seasoned cricketer and his conduct on the field has been exemplary."
"Kohli's action was supported by ICC Elite Panel Umpire Nigel Llong, who rushed in to dissuade Steve Smith from taking recourse to inappropriate assistance," it further read.
The BCCI also urged the ICC to intervene in the matter as Smith himself during his address to the mediaconceded of a "brain fade".
"BCCI has requested the ICC to take cognizance of the fact that the Australian skipper Steve Smith in his press conference admitted to a 'brain fade' at that moment. BCCI sincerely hopes that the rest of the matches are played in the true spirit of cricket," it said.
Kohli also received due support from India legends like Kapil Dev and V.V.S. Laxman for asking the Aussies to play the game in the right spirit.
"Also, it was so disappointing seeing Australian team's captain behaviour on field today (Tuesday). Totally against the spirit of this game," the 1983 World Cup winning skipper tweeted on Tuesday.
Laxman on his handle wrote: "Really disappointed with the way @stevesmith49 looked @ the dressing room 2 take a review. Totally against the spirit of the game."