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Australia and India trade insults over tactics

The uneasy truce between Australia and India was in danger of breaking up when the two teams began trading insults over tactics in the fourth and final Test on Saturday.

cricket Updated: Jan 26, 2008 16:25 IST
Julian Linden

The uneasy truce between Australia and India was in danger of breaking up when the two teams began trading insults over tactics in the fourth and final Test on Saturday.

India's opening batsmen Virender Sehwag accused the Australians of batting defensively because they were "scared" of losing while Australia's Matthew Hayden claimed the Indians had resorted to bowling wides to restrict their scoring opportunities.

"I think they're not going to win so they are scared and playing very defensive," Sehwag told a news conference.

"They only scored 260 in a day. This is not like Australia. Last time we came here they scored 400 in a day. I think they're scared about defeat."

India need to win the match to salvage a drawn series after they lost the opening two Tests in Melbourne and Sydney then rebounded to win the third game in Perth.

However, their hopes seem to be rapidly fading, with the match already heading towards a draw with two days still to go.

Despite posting an impressive first innings total of 526, India's bowlers have struggled to make inroads against the Australians, who finished the third day on 322-3, still 204 behind but with seven wickets in hand.

Sehwag said the Indians were frustrated by Australia's slow scoring.

"On a flat track they scored 260 in a day and lost three wickets so there must be something wrong in their batting lineup, or maybe something wrong in their thinking," Sehwag said.

"We're working hard on our bowling and fielding but if someone's playing defensive we can't help it.

"We are just in a positive frame of mind and we want a result, it doesn't matter whether we win or lose."

'Negative bowling'

Hayden, who made 103 to kick-start Australia's innings, blamed the Indians for bowling negatively.

"I think it is purely a response to the way India decided to bowl," Hayden said."I didn't feel particularly threatened by the way they bowled, with ring fielders and often 7-2 fields that is what they had planned on Saturday.

"They have very wide tactics and that was indicated by the fact they didn't want to take the new ball."

Hayden, who became just the sixth player to hit 30 test hundreds, said India's tactics played directly into Australia's hands.

"They just wanted to stop us scoring, which is perfect for us really because all we wanted to do was bat for time in the game," he said. ""The way they bowled today was perfect for us not to lose the game, Australia is 2-1 up in the series and we definitely want that to stay."

Relations between the Australian and Indian teams, increasingly strained over the last decade, have plummeted to a new low during this series.

The International Cricket Council (ICC) appointed an independent mediator to meet with the feuding captains when India skipper Anil Kumble accused the Australians of bad sportsmanship and the Indian cricket board threatened to cancel the rest of the tour after a stormy Sydney test.

(Editing by Alastair Himmer)