'If you are a fighter, then fight it out because you are doing it for your country,' Harbhajan Singh, who has been at the centre of quite a few tiffs with the Aussies in recent years, including the Monkeygate affair, tells Harish Kotian/Rediff.com
The Australia-India series began cordially enough, but has grown acrimonious with every day's contest.
Many former Indian cricketers blame India's unnecessary sledging as a key factor in the defeat in the second Test.
Angered by the Indian sledging when he came out to bat, Mitchell Johnson smashed the Indian bowlers around at the Gabba for 88 and then blew the Indian batting away with four wickets.
'To find his (Mahendra Singh Dhoni's) junior players getting into verbals is sad, to say the least,' wrote the legendary Sunil Gavaskar. 'The only thing that should do the talking is the bat and the ball. To see the Indians start it and keep indulging in it was an amusing sidelight, but it has backfired on them.'
Former India off-spinner Harbhajan Singh, who has been at the centre of quite a few tiffs with the Aussies in recent years, including the infamous Monkeygate affair involving Andrew Symonds in 2007-2008, told Rediff.com how important it is to be aggressive and look the opposition in the eye, while insisting there is no place for abuse in the game.
"The Australians are very aggressive cricketers; they don't like it when things don't go their way," 'Bhajji' said. "If a session or two doesn't go as per plan they hit the panic button, start saying things and look to target people in the opposition."
"They don't like to be dominated. If someone is playing better than them, they tend to say a few things. But if you look into their eyes and give it back, they don't do it for a while and just sit quiet."
"All teams resort to sledging today, but when Australia does it, people hype it. If the Indian players sledge people question why we are doing it," Bhajji added.
"You have to be aggressive and show passion, otherwise you won't enjoy the game, no matter which sport you are playing," Singh, arguably the most aggressive member of the Indian team he was a member of, pointed out.
"I believe you should give it back, but it is important not to cross the line. I don't think sledging should ever be banned."
"In sport, when two top teams, or two heavyweight wrestlers, clash, people enjoy a lot. It does not matter if the wrestlers enjoy or not, but fans certainly have a good time. This is the nature of this game. People will come for the cricket, but certainly also enjoy things like sledging," Bhajji felt.
"Sometimes, sledging brings out the best in some cricketers while some players are quiet and unaffected by it."
"The game is all about being in a situation and responding to it," he said, adding, "How you want to respond to the situation is entirely up to you. If you are a fighter, then fight it out because you are doing it for your country."
Image: Australians Brad Haddin and Steve Smith exchange words with Mahendra Singh Dhoni during the Melbourne Test, December 26, 2014.