Paine defends Smith after pitch incident

Australia captain Tim Paine has come to the rescue of fellow teammate Steve Smith, insisting that the premier batsman did not deliberately scuff up the crease during the final day of the heated third Test against India at SCG on Monday.

The new world no.2 Test batsman Smith, who struck his 27th Test hundred in the third match, was caught on video appearing to scuff up Rishabh Pant’s guard – the marks used to guide where they stand.

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Some observers on social media accused Smith of “cheating” with former cricketers like Michael Vaughan, Virender Sehwag and Darren Gough also criticising Smith’s actions.

“He was certainly not changing a guard,” Paine said. “I imagine if he was, the India players would have kicked up a bit of a stink at the time.

“As we know, he has those many Steve Smith quirks – one of those is he is always marking centre,” Paine also added.

Paine also updated on the current mental condition of Smith after the backlash he had to face on social media because of the incident.

“He (Smith) is disappointed with the way it has come across,” Paine said. “That is something he does every single game, five or six times per day. He likes to walk up to where he bats and visualise where he is going to play.”

Meanwhile Paine also publicly apologised for sledging India off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin on the last day of the Test match, adding that he also privately spoke to the Indian moments after the completion of the match.

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