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Australia, India cricket boards make peace

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 9/03/2017 Rob Forsaith

Cricket Australia chief executive James Sutherland left the building housing the sport's most-powerful organisation unsure if he'd successfully negotiated a truce or would soon be preparing for a full-blown crisis.

By the time Sutherland arrived at Mumbai airport, peace had been struck. Australia and India's cricket boards agreed to move on from a series of controversial incidents that marred the spiteful second Test.

Opposing captains Steve Smith and Virat Kohli had been at risk of being charged by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and Cricket Australia (CA) respectively, as allowed under the sport's code of conduct.

Smith infuriated the BCCI when he looked to the dressing room for advice on whether to review a lbw dismissal in Bangalore. Kohli insulted the tourists in a post-match tirade, making unsubstantiated allegations they used the same illegal tactic throughout the game.

The BCCI on Thursday afternoon formally reported Smith and Peter Handscomb, who told his batting partner to look to support staff for advice in the flashpoint.

The brinkmanship ended when Sutherland and counterpart Rahul Johri thrashed out their differences at the BCCI headquarters. Sutherland received a phone call en route to Mumbai airport on Thursday night, confirming the complaint against Smith and Handscomb would be dropped.

The meeting was planned a long time ago, but the agenda changed severely after Smith and Kohli put so many noses out of joint. Sutherland escalated the standoff when he used the word "outrageous" to describe Kohli's claim.

Sutherland and Johri clarified their various concerns and agreed it was in the best interests of both teams to move on and focus on Ranchi, where the four-Test series continues on Thursday.

They shared shared some common ground in expressing concern the International Cricket Council (ICC) had mismanaged the situation. Both boards were shocked match referee Chris Broad and the sport's governing body cleared all 22 players involved in the heated clash.

The two organisations released a joint statement early on Friday morning (AEDT).

"BCCI will withdraw the complaint filed with ICC with an expectation that the two captains will meet prior to the Ranchi Test and commit to lead their teams by example," it noted.

"And play the rest of the series in the right spirit, demonstrating that the players from both teams are true ambassadors for their respective countries."

It might be wishful thinking given how much ill will has been generated by the match and its acrimonious postscript. Not since the monkeygate saga of 2008, when India threatened to return home from Australia, have relations between the teams been so poor.

Smith and Kohli will sit down early next week with Richie Richardson, who is replacing Broad as match referee for the third and fourth Tests. Kohli's near-constant verbal abuse in the field, which continued at breaks of play, has not gone down well with the tourists.

"The two teams are fierce competitors who represent their countries with pride ... with so much at stake, tensions can bubble over," Sutherland said in the joint statement.

"We have agreed that it is in the best interests of the game to put these differences aside."

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