Throughout the long history of cricket India and Australia rivalry is not famous like other rivalries in cricket but over the course of the time this rivalry has produced most intense moments on the cricketing field which has dropped the standard of cricket. Either it was the 70s to 80s era or the early 2000s or even if we look back into the history of cricket controversies have been the part of the gentleman game either between the players during the verbal spat or players getting involved in the ugly fights with the umpires. The history says gentleman games sometimes turned into the war field where players took the game more personal or sometimes tried intentionally to beat opposition with the mind games.
Controversy term may look bad but this term has come from sledging basically which is given the word called controversies later. In the game of cricket a sledging at some point of level is right but if players or teams tried to keep them personal by dragging random issues then it is not sledging. With India and Australia teams will be playing Border-Gavaskar series by the end of this month let us take a look at top five controversies between India and Australia.
The Famous Sydney Test, 2008:
Let us begin the list with the famous second Sydney test which is still very fresh in our minds. Team India was trailing by 1-0 in the series and coming into the second test Australia decided to bat first after the winning the toss and they have been reduced to 134/6 after the lunch and what followed next was complete biased umpiring from the Steve Bucknor and Mark Benson along with third umpire Bruce Oxenford to give nine wrong decisions in the favor Ricky Ponting team known as Aussies too.
Symonds on the score of 30 was clearly caught out on the delivery of Ishant Sharma but Steve Bucknor was not interested and given him not out but replay shows it was out as Symonds went onto scored unbeaten 162* was supported well by consolidated knocks from Brad Hogg (79) and Brett Lee (59) to take the scoreboard to 463 runs in the first innings of Australian Team.
The Unforgotten Monkeygate Scandal:
Andrew Symonds and Harbhajan Singh were the other twist in the second Sydney test of border-Gavaskar trophy 2008. Australian cricket team was at the top in those years of cricket and they have performed invincible and they have wanted to dominate every A-list teams with the best cricket ever in the history and humiliated minnows teams so badly. But after the Sydney test the downfall of Australian team had started.
Team India was the great side in those years with the likes of Dravid, Sachin, Kumble and Ganguly. After the Australian first innings team India went onto scored 532 runs in their first innings with the consolidated knocks from Rahul Dravid (53), VVS Laxman (109), Sourav Ganguly (67), Harbhajan Singh (63) and unbeaten knock of Sachin Tendulkar 154* but it was not complete without the unexpected verbal fight between Andrew Symonds and Harbhajan Singh during the Indian Innings.
With 345/7 at one stage, team India before Harbhajan Singh put the fight with Sachin Tendulkar to add on 129 runs partnership for the 8th wicket to put the hosts at the back foot. In between this partnership Australians have tried everything to break this unexpected partnership but nothing worked out as in between the one over Andrew Symonds got some exchange of words with Harbhajan Singh which he completely mistook it and found it racial.
The issue went into the courtroom with terms given to this was “Monkeygate Scandal” where Harbhajan Singh was banned for 3 test matches which was removed later by knowing that Harbhajan Singh didn't say that term which he was accused of by the teammates of opposition. Even when team India was chasing the target in the fourth innings many umpiring decisions went against team India like Rahul Dravid was given out which was clearly not-out. Andrew Symonds reckoned after these incidents
"I was very lucky. I was out when I was 30, given not out. That's cricket though, I can sit here and tell you about my bad decisions as well - but I won't."
The Watson-Gambhir Sledging, 2008:
This time Australia was touring India for the 4-test match in the Border-Gavaskar trophy. It was the third test match with team India was already 1-0 up in the series and Australia team had to win the third test to keep the series alive. After winning the toss team India decided to bat first and it was golden years of Gautam Gambhir career who took the opportunity to produced the career best innings of 206 runs which include 26 fours and one six to helped the team India to take the scoreboard to 613 runs with the loss of 7 wicket before declaration comes up.
Gautam Gambhir was involved in one match-turning partnership of 278 runs for the 4th wicket with VVS Laxman when team India was 157/3 at one stage. Australian have tried almost everything to disturb the balance of this partnership but they were unsuccessful in that even when Watson was bowling he was kept on provoking Gambhir continuously with no success and while taking the run Watson indicated something with his elbow towards Gambhir which looked weird.
Gambhir while running back Watson came in between to stop him to take the second run which was completely wrong and what next was drama between players and umpire to stop this fight to go into some other zone. Umpires got involved otherwise it could've been more dangerous to see unexpected behaviour of the Australia team in the whole match which ended in a draw and the next test match team India won by 172 runs and series by 2-0 in the end. But Gautam Gambhir was banned for one test match for this accident which was somewhere again very biased from ICC board of control.
The Virat Kohli - Mitchell Johnson Verbal battle, Melbourne, 2014:
The last test match of MS Dhoni. It was the third test match with Australian was 2-0 up in the series and team India had to win this game to keep themselves alive in the contest. After winning the toss Australia decided to bat first and they have batted on for the five sessions to post 530 runs on the board with the contributions from Steve Smith (192), Ryan Harris (74), Chris Rogers (57), Brad Haddin (55) and Shane Watson (52).
Team India has came into bat after tea break of Day 2 and they have stumped the day with 108/1 the next morning team India lost two wickets under the score of 39 runs to reduced team India to 147/3 before Virat Kohli and Rahane added on 252 runs partnership for the 4th wicket to take team India back into the contest.
In between this partnership Australians players have tried the sledging to break this partnership but the highlight of this partnership was when Johnson hits Virat Kohli with the ball while throwing towards the stumps on his bowling but Johnson apologized straight after to Kohli and this Delhi Star was waiting for this moment to ignite the heat and Kholi smashed 169 runs after to made statement in his style that this bat will speak louder than my words and accusations of being a spoiled brat before the series start turned into the dependable batsman. Although the match ended in a draw but team India has got best batsman of the decade.
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Dravid-Slater-Tendulkar Verbal Fight, 2001:
If history looks back this series will be trendsetter in the Indian cricket history. Team India has come back into the series after trailing by 1-0 to win the series by 2-1 against the most complete Australian side of that era. Australia was on the long tour to team India for a test and one-day series. In the first test match Australia after winning the toss decided to bowl first and they have restricted the hosts at the minimal score of 176 runs with only contribution came from Sachin Tendulkar (76). In response Australia went on to score 349 in their first innings with two hundreds from Mathew Hayden (119) and Adam Gilchrist (122) to get the crucial lead.
Team India in the second innings was two down at 57/2 before Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid started to put on the fight to take India back into the game but in between there was an incident which was the highlight of the series and still fresh in our minds. Team India score was 103/2 when Rahul Dravid pull shot the ball and it had landed just before Michael Slater who was confident that it was catch but umpires rechecked it which was showing it was not out and what's next Australian didn't liked that and Slater went straight to Rahul Dravid to exchange some words which was completely absurd then he walked to Sachin Tendulkar to said the words to him also.
Although Slater felt bad for absurd behaviour on the field which he had apologized after the end the controversy moved into some other direction. After the match, Micheal Slater reckoned:
“Sledging Rahul Dravid was one of the mistakes of my life. He did not lose his cool even when I was hurling abuses at him. I could not stomach the fact that he was single-handedly demolishing the best team in the world. When the rage wore out on me, I realized that I was an animal and he was a gentleman. He won my heart instantly”.
With another border-Gavaskar series is near, I hope we will see some quality cricket which doesn't drop the standard of cricket among two best cricketing teams in the world at present.
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