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India vs Australia: Five infamous controversies that rocked the clash of titans

India and Australia have often been embroiled in controversies during bilateral series. A look at five such instances where emotion ran high on the field.

cricket Updated: Feb 21, 2017 15:55 IST
AFP
India vs Australia

Virat Kohli-led India will play Sten Smith-led Australia in a four-Test series starting on Thursday.(Getty Images)

Five previous flashpoints between India and Australian teams, that begin a four-Test series in Pune on Thursday.

Sunny’s almighty strop

Indian captain Sunil Gavaskar suffered a massive meltdown during the 1981 Melbourne Test when he threatened to forfeit the match after being given out lbw on 70 off Australian great Dennis Lillee. The batting legend, nicknamed “Sunny”, was adamant that the ball had hit his bat first and remonstrated with both Lillee and the umpire before reluctantly starting his walk from the crease while shaking his head vehemently.

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He instructed bemused fellow opener Chetan Chauhan to leave with him and the pair headed for the boundary. A swift intervention from then Indian manager Shahid Durrani prevented Chauhan from leaving the field which would have resulted in the visitors conceding the match and incurring a suspension. Gavaskar later said he regretted his “inexcusable behaviour”.

Tendulkar out ‘shoulder before’

Indian fans still rage about an umpiring decision during the 1999 Adelaide Test that saw the great Sachin Tendulkar dismissed effectively for “shoulder before wicket”. The “Little Master” -- who stands at 5ft 4in (1.65m) -- attempted to duck a Glenn McGrath bouncer, only for the ball to keep low and hit his left shoulder.

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Home umpire Daryl Harper had no hesitation in giving Tendulkar out lbw. Some replays suggested the ball may have clipped the top of the stumps but most were inconclusive. Tendulkar was out for a duck and the reliably-partisan Indian media went apoplectic. The ever-gracious Tendulkar played down the decision, merely saying his dismissal was a bit disappointing.

Ganguly keeps Waugh waiting

Former India captain Sourav Ganguly so enraged his opposite number Steve Waugh during India’s 2001 tour Down Under that the Australian skipper accused him of a “lack of respect”. Waugh was furious that Ganguly kept turning up late for the toss.

Waugh wrote in his autobiography that he was “wound up” by the left-handed batsman’s “continued petulance”. Ganguly, nicknamed the Prince of Kolkata for the air of superiority that he carried on and off the field, initially maintained that his tardiness had been a mistake. Years later though, he revealed that he had turned up a few minutes late on purpose to teach the Aussies a lesson for their rude behaviour.

‘Monkeygate’ erupts

The 2008 New Year Test in Sydney was undoubtedly the lowest point in India-Australia cricket relations. With tempers frayed because of a string of questionable umpiring decisions and on-field altercations, the “Monkeygate” scandal erupted -- almost causing the tour to be called off.

Australia all-rounder Andrew Symonds accused spinner Harbhajan Singh of calling him a “monkey”. Singh, who denied any wrong-doing, was suspended for three matches for the alleged racist slur. The ban was overturned when India threatened to quit the tour, claiming Singh had been wrongly accused. The allegations prompted India captain Anil Kumble to say that only one team was playing with the spirit of the game. Australia won the match and went on to take the series 2-1.

Kohli shows the middle finger

Four years after “Monkeygate” came “Fingergate” when a young and angry Virat Kohli let the rowdy Sydney Test crowd get to him. Kohli was fielding in the deep when he was on the receiving end of some unpleasant chants from the famously vocal fans and responded by flashing the middle finger.

It was caught on camera and Kohli, now captain, was fined 50 percent of his match fee for bringing the game into disrepute. He later defended his response on Twitter: “I agree cricketers don’t have to retaliate. what (sic) when the crowd says the worst things about your mother and sister. the worst I’ve heard.”