Disclosing for the first time the reason for his being late for the toss in the 2001 series against Australia, former captain Sourav Ganguly admitted on Saturday that he did it to teach his rivals a lesson for rude behaviour.
Speaking at the Hindustan Times Summit, Ganguly, when asked by moderator Vir Sanghvi, conceded that it was a case of tit-for-tat and that he deliberately did it after an incident involving Australian coach John Buchanan and fast bowler Javagal Srinath.
Ganguly, now 34 and trying to stage a comeback to the national team, said that during a match of that historic series, when Srinath was coming out of the field for something, Buchanan asked him rudely why he was doing that.
"It was not his (Buchanan's) business. Srinath told us in a team meeting that Buchanan had asked him that in a rude manner. Then we decided that we would show them... That's why I went out late for the toss in Vizag (third ODI in April)," said Ganguly.
Ganguly made Australia captain Steve Waugh wait for a few minutes on the pitch before coming out of the dressing room.
Then, Ganguly had said: "There's so much to do in the mornings, knocking up, talking to the selectors, that I may have been late by a few minutes."
On Saturday, he admitted it was deliberate.
The issue, however, did not die down, as Waugh in his autobiography 'Out of My Comfort Zone' wrote later that he was "wound up" by Ganguly's "continued petulance" in being late for the toss, and alleged that Ganguly was late for the toss "seven times" during the historic series.
Waugh also alleged that Ganguly once tried to wrongly claim he had won the toss before the match referee intervened.
India upset Australia 2-1 in the three-match Test series after the world champions had won 16 successive matches, including the first of that series before the hosts won the next two. India, however, lost the ODI series 2-3.
"Then, in the 2003 series (on India's tour to Australia), Steve said that let's be on time for the toss now. I said: 'If you behave, I will'," Ganguly said, drawing laughter from the packed audience.
Ganguly, who has scored 5,221 runs in 88 Tests and 10,123 runs in 279 ODIs, is India's most successful Test captain. He won 21 out of the 49 Tests in which he led the side and lost 13.
He was sacked as captain after India's September 2005 tour of Zimbabwe. He was recalled for the 2006 tour of Pakistan and played his last Test in Karachi in February. But he has not played a one-day international after the Zimbabwe tour.