The Boxing Day Test is six days away, but the mind games have started. And the Indians are giving the Aussies as good as they’re getting.
To unsettle the Indians, a highly parochial local media fired the first salvo. “India threatens to quit match with bizarre complaint” screamed the Canberra Times. Two of Australia’s largest dailies, The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, carried similar headlines.
The story, completely erroneous, and acknowledged as such by Cricket ACT (the local cricket body), quoted a mystery member of India’s support staff as saying the Indian team had threatened to walk out of a warm-up match in the Australian capital on the flimsy premise that rain would wash out play on all three days.
“Utter rubbish,” said India’s media manager GS Walia. Even ACT acknowledged it as such.
The Aussie media then targeted Indian coach Duncan Fletcher, who had riled Ricky Ponting’s team in 2005 during his stint with the England team.
Earlier, Australia’s national news agency AAP called Ajinkya Rahane’s pre-match conference, which he addressed in Hindi, “bizarre” though his answers were translated into English.
In India, ex-skipper Sourav Ganguly ridiculed suggestions that former India coach Greg Chappell — whom he called “mad” — could give tips that could help the hosts unravel the likes of Sachin Tendulkar and Virender Sehwag.
“If you look back at the 2008 series… Chappell was present among the Australian team’s support staff. Yet, we won,” he said.