The counter-attacking knock from Pant rattled the Aussies and saw them desperately searching for ways to unsettle the swashbuckling batsman.
In what could have been an attempt to get under Pant’s skin, Steve Smith was caught on the stump camera scuffing up the guard mark of the 23-year-old during a drinks break on the final day of the Sydney Test.
During the break, Smith walked up to the stumps and was seen shadow batting as a left-handed batsman. He then turned around and removed Pant’s guard mark on the crease.
Seconds later, Pant came back to the crease after the break and was seen searching for his guard and after not being able to find it, asked the umpire for it again.
Although Smith’s face was not visible on the stump camera, the jersey number was visible. Jersey number 49 is what Smith wears and that indicated that the former Australia skipper was the one who had done this.
Watch the incident here:
After drinks break Aussie comes to shadow bat and scuffs out the batsmen’s guard marks. Rishabh Pant then returns… https://t.co/uwtAHhSZdM
— Cricket Badger (@cricket_badger) 1610325033000
The question now arises if Smith did that on purpose as part of some sort of mind game to unsettle Pant? Some experts felt that it might have been an instinctive reaction by Smith. However why he would scuff up the guard mark at all is anyone’s guess.
Though it might be called an insignificant incident, questions will be asked. Did Smith really need to scuff up the guard mark? Was it just an instinctive reaction while shadow batting?
Fans across the world have been weighing in with their opinions on the rather strange incident.
Can’t decide who’s the worst – Australian crowd, Australian umpires or Australian player Steve Smith
— Sagar (@sagarcasm) 1610339885000
Brainfade in India,Sandpaper in South Africa,Scuffing pitch in Australia, What a player Steve Smith is. Performs everywhere.👏 #AUSvIND
— Manish (@iHitman55) 1610331357000
Who here has lost respect for Steve Smith and Tim Paine? Because I have. #AUSvIND
— Jay (@bhavsarJ2_0) 1610342466000
Eventually Pant was dismissed on 97 in the 80th over by Nathan Lyon, when he mistimed a shot and hit it straight to Pat Cummins at gully. Many are calling it the best Test knock Pant has ever played.
If Smith did in fact do this on purpose (something that will perhaps never be known) it could possibly once again point at Australian cricket’s “win at all costs” attitude which has been talked about a lot and highlighted more by a review that was commissioned after the 2018 ball tampering scandal that saw Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft being banned.