Photo debunks alleged Smith 'controversy'

India fans - and some commentators - dismayed by image, but closer inspection reveals the truth

An optical illusion has sent social media into a frenzy, with many believing Steve Smith mocked India captain Virat Kohli as he left the field upon his dismissal on day three of the third Test in Ranchi.

Kohli, who injured his right shoulder diving in the field on day one, was caught by Smith at second slip for six in Saturday's second session, and as the batsman turned to walk back to the dressing room Smith and the Australians celebrated the prize wicket.

Replays appeared to show Smith’s right hand holding his left shoulder, which many took as the Australian skipper mocking Kohli, who now averages just 9.2 in five innings this series.

However, the hand on Smith’s shoulder did not belong to the touring captain but that of gully fielder Peter Handscomb, who immediately rushed in and hugged Smith as part of the celebrations.

The offending zoomed-in shot of Smith (left) and (right) clear evidence of the optical illusion // Twitter
L-R: The offending zoomed-in shot, and evidence of the optical illusion // Twitter

A photo surfaced on social media soon after, showing Handscomb embracing Smith, who still had the ball in his right hand from taking the catch to remove Kohli.

While it’s been proven that Smith did not mock Kohli, there were no television tricks to save Glenn Maxwell, who grabbed his shoulder after diving and saving a boundary on the rope.

Maxwell’s tumble was almost identical to Kohli’s, and as the Victorian returned to his fielding position he touched his shoulder with a cheeky grin.

Former India batsman VVS Laxman has called the actions of Smith and Maxwell “disappointing”, but those comments may now only be relevant for the allrounder.

“I understand that there is history behind both these teams, these players,” Laxman said on Star Sports.

“But mocking someone who is injured, Glenn Maxwell, and Steve Smith, what example is he setting to his team?

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“That's very disappointing.

“You can sledge, if you want to play the hard way it's fine but not mocking someone who is injured, in pain.”

It was another spiteful day between the Australians and Kohli, who visibly cheered from the players’ balcony a DRS outcome that didn’t go the way of the visitors.

Aakash Chopra, who played 10 Tests for India between 2003-04, said the players are ambassadors of the game and that both teams needed to bear some culpability in the clear animosity currently on display in the series.

“It's not OK to mock (Kohli),” Chopra said on Star Sports.

“Not that Indians have never done it in the past, I remember Shikhar Dhawan mocking Shane Watson, I think the game was in Canberra.

“That was not on. This is also not on.

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“Yes, there is a certain amount of animosity or rivalry, and it's been flared up quite a bit between Virat Kohli and Steve Smith, but you must need to know where to draw the line and some amount of blame even Virat must take, because the moment the DRS happened he was out here clapping.

“These are things that can be avoided.

“The idea should be to douse the fire, rather than just adding fuel to the fire.

“This is adding fuel.”