India pacer Mohammad Siraj on Thursday said England all-rounder Ben Stokes swore at him on the opening day of the fourth and final Test in Ahmedabad, an incident “handled well” by skipper Virat Kohli during an on-field showdown with the visiting player.
Kohli was seen having an animated discussion with Stokes after the all-rounder allegedly swore at Siraj. Umpire Nitin Menon had to intervene for play to resume after England were reeling at 32 for three.
“He was swearing at me, so Virat bhai intervened and handled that well. These things happen at ground,” Siraj said at the post-match press conference.
Stokes, on his part, played down the incident.
“Pretty animated was that (the conversation)?...look at it from a different way, you know, two-three guys who care about what they are doing, care about representing and played against each other and you know, why would they not be competitive?” he asked.
“So we are not going to back down to anyone...for me, that is what it was competitive guys trying to get over each other,” he added.
Playing his second game of the series, Siraj picked up two wickets in England’s innings.
Siraj was also at the centre of the controversy during the Test series in Australia where he was racially abused by a section of the crowd.
Cricket Australia had apologised for that incident and even evicted some spectators from the ground during the Sydney Test.
Siraj and Kohli are also teammates in the IPL franchise Royal Challengers Bangalore.
Stokes however couldn’t hide his “disappointment” at frittering away a good start as he had defended well for almost two and half hours during the “hardest conditions” that he has ever batted in his 70-odd Test matches.
Stokes scored 55 off 121 balls before a skidder from Washington Sundar trapped him leg before on the opening day of the final Test against India.
“I am more disappointed that I actually get myself in and get out. Fifty is not really a (score) that will win you a Test match,” Stokes told after day’s play.
“I was very disappointed to getting on that wicket, start feeling comfortable and then get out in the way I did especially because I spent two and a half hours protecting myself from the ball that skids on and getting out to the ball that skids on. So, I was very frustrated with myself,” the all-rounder said.
The “frustration” is knowing which was the danger delivery and still getting out.
“Very frustrated. After spending two and half hours, you know, playing so well, trying to avoid getting out to a straight ball and I ended up getting out to (it), that is frustrating,” said the 29-year-old Christchurch-born left-handed batsman.” Stokes was also disappointed with the team’s overall batting performance.
“I think we are disappointed with the batting. I think we are more than capable of scoring, so yeah frustrating but was nice to get a wicket at the end of the day,” added he said referring to Shubman Gill’s dismissal.
Stokes had no hesitation in admitting that these are the “hardest conditons” to bat on.
“Yeah, I have played 70 odd games now and I have told others in the team that this is the hardest conditions I have ever faced as a batsman and I have played all around the world.
“It is a case of finding it your own way. It is not about coming together as a group and saying this is what we need to do next. It is about how can we go away as individuals and when we come back here next time, have we progressed as an individual and a group of batsmen, because everyone plays in a different way.”
Ashwin Ravichandran has made Stokes his bunny having dismissed the left-hander many times, and Stokes said that the India off-spinner was a fantastic bowler but refused to read too much into it.
“You come to India, you are going to face a lot of Ashwin. So he has got more chance of getting me out, but I don’t read into the fact that he has got me out that many times.
“It is what it is, someone is there to get you out and that is probably what I have got on that matter. He (Ashwin) is a fantastic bowler, obviously, but it is his job to get batsmen out,” he said to a query by PTI.
There was a lot of debate surrounding the pitch that was used in the third test played here, which ended in two days, but according to Stokes the wicket for the current Test was much better than the previous game.
“Overall, it is a much better wicket than it was the last game played here, so yeah, we are just disappointed,” he noted.
India need to either draw or win the match to find a place in the World Test Championships final in June, while a win for England would revive some of the lost confidence after the thrashing inside two days in the third Test. The hosts are 2-1 up in the four-match series.
With PTI inputs