India and controversy are never too far away when it comes to Australia tours. It was ‘Monkeygate’ in 2007-8 while skipper MS Dhoni blamed seniors’ slow fielding three years back as India slumped to a 0-4 defeat.
On Saturday, after India went down in the Brisbane Test within four days to concede a 0-2 lead to Australia in the four-match series, Dhoni hinted at dressing room turmoil. India paid the price for excessive aggression the previous day, suffering a spectacular batting collapse on Saturday morning to leave Australia chasing a modest total.
India surprised everyone after opener Shikhar Dhawan, unbeaten overnight, did not come out to bat and Virat Kohli instead accompanied Cheteshwar Pujara. The in-form batsman was out for one. India lost four wickets for 16 runs, and six for 67 in their second innings.
The team management, in a statement, said Shikhar was injured after he took a hit on his right wrist while batting on an uneven practice pitch in the morning. It blamed the Gabba groundsman for not acceding to their request to provide quality practice pitch.
Virat, who was hit on his forearm, was out for one.
Dhoni blamed poor communication had caused ‘unrest’ in the dressing room. “There was miscommunication in our dressing room about whether Shikhar will go in to bat or Virat will go in. And we could only give, maybe 5-10 minutes’ notice, to Virat. That’s one area which we could have handled a bit better, but it’s something that we will have to take it in our stride. We thought he took a blow, but he was good enough to bat, but he was not.
“That kind of a scenario, there is a bit of unrest in the dressing room. The calmness of the dressing room goes for a toss. It was a bit late to verbally resolve the problem. What was really needed was some kind of a partnership, 20-25 minutes batting and things would have been normal. But that didn’t happen. That was the area we lacked, and we couldn’t really capitalise on.”
Dhawan took pain-killers before going out to bat at the fall of the seventh wicket, top-scoring with 81.
The Aussies scoffed at the complaint about the practice pitches. Fast bowler Ryan Harris ridiculed India when he said he did not get injured because he used his bat.
The Gabba curator, Kevin Mitchell, told HT: “It isn’t any different from what you have at the centre. The other team (Australia) found it fine, nobody complained about it. It is quite natural that wear and tear would normally set in, like any other pitch would have after three days’ practice.”
There was more controversy after it emerged that Ishant Sharma and Suresh Raina went out during lunch interval on Friday to buy food as they were unhappy with the dressing room fare. They were accompanied by an Anti-Corruption (ACSU) official and team director, Ravi Shastri. But the players were not allowed to take the food in, and ate their lunch outside the stadium. The team management says it had sent its menu well in advance.