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No love lost between India and Aus -- When rows overshadowed cricket

March 07, 2017 23:45 IST

We have witnessed many a battle of attrition during historic matches and then we have seen those games that are made relevant not by the cricketing geniuses but by controversies that erupted out of nowhere. Herein lay the beauty of the India-Australia rivalry. takes you back in time to those episodes that have created a fiery history between the two cricketing giants.

India's captain Virat Kohli (2nd from left) speaks to the umpire as Australia's captain Steven Smith (right) walks off the ground after being dismissed on Day 4 of the 2nd Test in Bengaluru on Tuesday

IMAGE: India's captain Virat Kohli (2nd from left) speaks to the umpire as Australia's captain Steven Smith (right) walks off the ground after being dismissed on Day 4 of the 2nd Test in Bengaluru on Tuesday. Photograph: Danish Siddiqui/Reuters

Controversies and rows have always made any series involving India and Australia – home or away – gripping tales of cricketing folklore.

There are those historic, memorable matches (the 1986 tied in Chennai, the Kolkata epic in 2001 and the Adelaide humdinger of 2015) that gripped our collective conscious.

But to add to the fight between bat and ball there have been episodes that have spiced up matches and series that have come to make India vs Australia cricket contests war-like battles.

The continuous exchange of words between captains Virat Kohli and Steve Smith and the row over the DRS referrals in the ongoing series are the newest chapters to be added to the book of the infamous rivalries shared between these cricketing giants.

From Virat Kohli’s middle-finger gesture in the 2012 tour of Australia, to the time when Steve Waugh was angered by Ganguly's decision to arrive late at the toss in all the three Tests of that 2001 series, prompting the Aus skipper to take up the matter with the match referee, there is no dearth of stories that stamp the greatness of this rivalry.

IMAGE: Harbhajan Singh and Andrew Symonds, the protagonists of the infamous 'Monkeygate'. Photograph: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

One of the oldest controversies involving the two teams dates back to 1981.

India’s famous victory at the Melbourne Cricket Ground was marred by a controversy when Sunil Gavaskar had staged a walkout after being adjudged leg-before to Dennis Lillee.

Lillee spewed a few uncharitable words that led to a furious Gavaskar forcing his opening partner Chetan Chauhan to walk out of the ground with him.

The 1986 tied Test in Madras, saw umpire V Vikramraju's leg before decision that had Maninder Singh given out, off the bowling of Greg Matthews, questioned by members of the Indian team.

In fact one senior India player had gone to the umpire's room to give Vijram Raju an earful.

But the biggest of all controversies was that infamous ‘Monkeygate’ scandal involving Harbhajan Singh and Andrew Symonds.

In 2008, in the Sydney Test, Symonds had accused Harbhajan of calling him "monkey" which is considered a racial abuse Down Under.

An enquiry commission was set up where Harbhajan was acquitted of charges made by the Australian cricket team.

The match was marred by debatable umpiring decisions and then skipper Anil Kumble's now iconic quote: "Only one team played in spirit of the game".

Kumble was applauded by the Indian media contingent who then engaged in a war of words with the then Aussie skipper Ricky Ponting.

David Warner (right) and Shikhar Dhawan exchange words

IMAGE: David Warner (right) and Shikhar Dhawan exchange words. Photograph: Scott Barbour/Getty Images

A couple of years later, Zaheer Khan took a sly dig at Ricky Ponting in Mohali after running him out.

Zaheer just called him "Usain Bolt" before Ponting came back to have a word with him.

In first Test of the series in 2015, Australian opener David Warner got into a heated exchange with Shikhar Dhawan, pacer Varun Aaron.  

The incident took place when Aaron nearly successful when he bowled Warner with the batsman on 66.

But the umpire ruled it a no-ball after the pacer had overstepped the bowling crease, recalling the left-hander, who had already started to make his way back to the dressing room.

Warner charged back to the middle and gave it back to the bowler who was celebrating wildly moments ago.

The next delivery was left alone by Warner, who then had a few words with Aaron which got the crowd going a bit and along with Shikhar Dhawan, who was not happy with the Australian's batsman reaction.

Tempers flared up as a result with Aaron, Warner, Shane Watson and Dhawan getting involved, and the umpires had to step in to resolve the situation.

After the next delivery was bowled, in the 34th over, umpire Ian Gould stepped in to have a word with Dhawan who was positioned at silly mid-on, while Indian captain Virat Kohli tried to calm Warner down.

With so much history between the teams, it’s only fair to expect more fireworks in the rest of the series.


Rediff Sports Desk