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Flashpoints in contests with Australia

Ashish Magotra | December 09, 2003

Sunil Gavaskar minced no words in 1999-2000 when he wrote that the Indians were up against 13 men when playing against Australia in Australia.

Jason Gillespie successfully appeals for the wicket of Sachin TendulkarSachin Tendulkar's dismissal in the first Test against Australia at Brisbane showed once again that luck rarely, if ever, runs India's way Down Under.

What's more, it is well known that when in Australia you not only have to fight battles on the cricket field, but off it as well. The Indian team is bound to be badgered by players, the media, and, unfortunately, it appears, even the umpires.

We take a look at a few controversial incidents that have taken place in India-Australia encounters down the years:

THE MOST famous of all such unsavoury incidents is one that occurred way back in 1981 at Melbourne. Memories of this incident are yet to fade as recent events have shown.

This is what happened: Indian skipper Gavaskar led his opening partner Chetan Chauhan off the field in protest against an umpiring decision after being adjudged leg before to Dennis Lillee.

"It was triggered by personal abuse on Lillee's part," Gavaskar, the first batsman to compile 10,000 Test runs, later said.

A crisis was averted by Indian manager Wing Commander Salim Durrani, who met the pair at the gate and ordered Chauhan back on to the field.

Gavaskar renewed his verbal rivalry with Lillee earlier this year and blamed the Australian fast bowler for his infamous walkout of more than two decades ago.

"If you look at the video," said Gavaskar, "I am walking towards the pavilion. I turned back only on hearing the abuse, then took Chauhan away.

"Had there been no abuse, I would have vented my anger out in the dressing room."

Michael Slater in a heated exchange with Rahul DravidAUSTRALIAN cricketers have always been an aggressive lot and no tour passes without incident.

Opener Michael Slater's on-field clash with Rahul Dravid in the first Test at Bombay during the 2001 series is not easily forgotten either.

Slater was seen arguing with the umpire and Dravid. The third umpire had ruled Dravid not out after Slater had dived forward at mid-wicket to take a catch.

Dravid and fellow batsman Sachin Tendulkar completed a 97 run third-wicket stand, but Australia went on to win the match by 10 wickets.

Slater, who said he had chatted amiably with Dravid in the dressing room after play, felt Dravid should have accepted his word and walked. The Australian opener was let off with just a warning from International Cricket Council match referee Cammie Smith.

ONE INCIDENT that comes to mind immediately when we talk of India's tours Down Under is Sachin Tendulkar's famous 'shoulder before wicket' dismissal.

Sachin Tendulkar ducks into a Glenn McGrath bouncer and is given out leg before wicketCricket columnists, writing in Australian newspapers, themselves underscored the fact that on at least three occasions, the Indian captain was given out wrongly on that tour.

Glenn McGrath, the man who "fancied his chances against Sachin" before the series began, was the bowler. The venue was Adelaide, where the first Test of the 1999-2000 series was being played.

Attempting to duck under a short-pitched delivery, the Indian captain was declared out leg before wicket when the ball skidded through and hit him on the shoulder as he was crouching.

Daryl Harper, who was on the field at Adelaide for the fourth day, ought to have known the nature of the pitch and the bounce of the wicket, as also the fact that Glenn McGrath's short-pitched ball was on the rise when it struck the Indian captain.

Set 396 for victory, India were bowled out for just 110.

MANY THOUGHT that was the worst decision of the tour, but Ranjan Madugalle, match referee for the Test series, topped that easily. He didn't even open his mouth when Ricky Ponting abused fast bowler Javagal Srinath in full view of the spectators and the TV cameras during the Boxing Day Test in that 1999-2000 series.

With Australia 189-5 on Day 1 and looking for quick runs, Ponting aimed a hook at a short one from Srinath, mised, and was hit on the grill of his helmet. He moved away a couple of paces, then turned around and audibly abused Srinath who had come up to inquire if he was hurt. Ponting, on getting to the non-striker's end, continued the 'conversation'.

Madugalle, however, got into the act when he fined Venkatesh Prasad a whopping 35 per cent of his match fees and handed him a suspended one-Test or two-ODI suspension for his pumped-up celebration after dismissing Australian opening batsman Michael Slater on the second day of that same Test in Melbourne.

No one who saw that incident would have claimed malice in Prasad's actions. On the contrary, in the previous over, Slater had had a few words with him as he ran a single. So, when Prasad got him in his next over, his reaction was probably something that just happened in the heat of the moment. Prasad went within inches of Slater and pretended to be working out with a punching bag.

MADUGALLE could have taken a similarly stern view of the gesture with which Greg Blewett greeted Sourav Ganguly's wicket in the same match -- the bowler went down on one knee and, with elbow bent, lifted a finger at the batsman in a universally recognisable gesture. But it was ruled as 'boyish exuberance'.

The number of times Glenn McGrath has been guilty of this very same 'boyish exuberance' even though he's on the wrong side of 30 escapes memory.

The Indians need to be prepared for the worst and if the worst does happen, they need to give of their best knowing that they will get no quarter from anyone in Australia.

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