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India complaint about being "provoked"

February 25, 2008 14:15 IST

The Indian cricket team has filed a written complaint with Match Referee Jeff Crowe about the provocative behaviour of the Australian team and threatened to take a "befitting action" if it is repeated in future.

Young fast bowler Ishant Sharma on Monday was docked 15 per cent of his match fee for finger-pointing a departing, abrasive Andrew Symonds from the middle in Sunday's tri-series game in Sydney.

It led the Indians to draft a strongly-worded letter to Crowe in which they have mentioned specific incidents of "provocation" by the Australians.

"We accept the match referee's decision for Ishant to have transgressed the Level 1.6 ICC Code of Conduct," Indian team manager Vimal Soni said, adding: "we also wanted him to have a look at the provocation which Australians have been repeatedly providing in the series."

"Much has happened in recent past and we didn't want to open up old wounds by making a complaint against the Australians. But we have mentioned specific incidents in the letter to match referee," he said.

The specific incidents, it is learnt, concerned the repeated jabbering which Ricky Ponting reportedly kept directing at Harbhajan Singh in Sunday's one-dayer as well as left-handed opener Matthew Hayden being accused of constantly calling Harbhajan a "mad boy."

Harbhajan, along with his skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni, drew the attention of two umpires at the Hayden's specific provocation when the big stand between Hayden and Ponting was taking place in the first half of the match.

Another incident which came up for mention in the match referee's hearing this morning was the gloves Dhoni wore in the initial part of Australia's innings.

"We changed the gloves once. Crowe pointed it out to us [during the Australian innings], even though according to rules the particular gloves completely met the specific regulations," said Soni.

The rules state that the webbing of a wicketkeeper's gloves should not go beyond the length of thumb and the finger.

"But since on extension of hand the cusp was visible, we decided to change the gloves," reacted Soni.

As for Ishant-Symonds spat, the Indians were adamant it happened as a result of the provocation by the Australian all-rounder.

"Our plea was Symonds provoked Ishant and that's why he did what he did," said Soni.

"The match referee has promised he would have a word with the Australian captain on the matter."

Ishant was called up for hearing by Crowe this morning in Sydney after the two umpires lodged a complaint about the Indian's gesture towards Symonds, who was bowled for 59 in the 45th over of the Australian innings at the SCG.

Crowe found the young fast bowler guilty of transgressing ICC Code of Conduct, a Level 1.6 breach of rules, which relates to an uncalled for aggressive gesture or action by the bowler towards a batsman pointing towards the pavilion.

"The umpires, based on what they had seen in the middle, reported the incident to the match referee," said Soni.

Even though Crowe has promised to have a word with Ponting, the latter unequivocally, had said on Sunday night that Symonds had not started the argument with the Indian fast bowler.

"He [Symonds] said in response to what was said to him -- he didn't start the incident," Ponting had flatly said after his side had won a cliff-hanger by a narrow 18-run margin.

Dhoni had hoped that the matter would not aggravate to the heights it did during the Sydney Test last month when Harbhajan was accused of making a racial slur against Symonds.

Even though Ponting later tried to downplay the incident, he did wonder whether there is something about Sydney which make the two sides to have a go at each other.

"Again, it is Sydney, I wonder whether there is something in the water in Sydney...."

Soni, on his part, clarified that he didn't want the matter to escalate and become a full-blown controversy.

"We could have filed another complaint but we did not want to start another hearing. Instead, we made the match referee aware that the Australians have provoked our players in the last two matches and cited specific instances, which is not good for our players," he said.

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