Brisbane: Australia's premier batsman Steve Smith is "shocked and disappointed" at the controversy created by the allegations levelled against him for purported video where he is seen scuffing up the guard mark of Indian batsman Rishabh Pant on the fifth day of the third Test.
A video footage showed Smith scuffing up the batsman's guard during drinks break in the first session on Monday. Pant scored a fluent 97 to raise India's hopes for a win.
"I have been quite shocked and disappointed by the reaction," Smith told News Corp.
Smith says that he does it out of a conditioned reflex of trying to visualise and do a little shadow practice.
"It's something I do in games to visualise where we are bowling, how the batter is playing our bowlers and then out of habit I always mark centre," Smith added.
After the video emerged, Smith faced criticism on social media by fans and former India opener Virender Sehwag.
Tried all tricks including Steve Smith trying to remove Pant's batting guard marks from the crease. Par kuch kaam na aaya. Khaaya peeya kuch nahi, glass toda barana.
But I am so so proud of the effort of the Indian team today. Seena chonda ho gaya yaar. pic.twitter.com/IfttxRXHeM
— Virender Sehwag (@virendersehwag) January 11, 2021
The former skipper added that such a controversy along with other incidents took the sheen off India's remarkable batting performance.
"It's such a shame that this and other events have taken away from what was a great batting performance by India yesterday, Smith said.
Earlier on Tuesday, Australia skipper Tim Paine had also defended Smith while asserting that the Indian team would have raked up the issue if any wrong was committed.
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There have been unconfirmed media reports that the Indian contingent has been unhappy with the quarantine protocols in Sydney where they have been confined to hotel.
Given the nature of the last few series between these teams, it would be naive to think too far ahead; but all factors considered, India will know they have some clawing back to do when they step out at the SCG on day two.
First innings heroes Marnus Labuschagne and Steve Smith steered Australia to a commanding 197-run lead in the high-stakes third Test in Sydney Saturday, leaving an injury-hit India with a mountain to climb.