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Is this the most controversial India vs Australia series ever? Ten developments

A look at the top forgettable moments from the recently concluded India vs Australia Test series which was in the news for a lot of wrong reasons.

cricket Updated: Mar 29, 2017 12:31 IST
Somshuvra Laha
Somshuvra Laha
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
India vs Australia,Virat Kohli,Steve Smith
The India vs Australia Test series was filled with controversies ranging from complaints about the pitch to on-field verbal duels.(Cricket Australia/Getty Images)

The recently concluded Test series between India and Australia was witness to some brilliant performances from both sides. The stage was set for some of the top cricketers in the world to show their talent and the rivalry between the teams made the occasion extra special. India were able to clinch the series 2-1 after an impressive win in the fourth Test match in Dharamsala.

However, the controversies were also not far behind and on more on than instance, the series was in the news for verbal battles between the players and the constant criticism of Indian pitches.

Here’s a look at the ten forgettable moments from the India vs Australia Test series -

Pune’s minefield

To leave a good impression with the Indian cricket team, officials in Pune reportedly went against the wishes of the local curator to provide possibly one of the worst home pitches in recent times. Losing the toss cost Virat Kohli as Australia scored 260 runs before their spinners shot out India for 105 on a crumbling pitch. The match was sealed there itself.

Virat Kohli was clean bowled by Steve O'Keefe at the Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium in Pune. ( BCCI )

Kohli’s lean patch

For all the talk that Virat Kohli might preserve his best against Australia, he came to an unimaginable standstill with some nightmarish dismissals. Shouldering arms to Steve O’Keefe on an unpredictable but turning pitch in Pune was probably the lowest point of Kohli’s batting this series. Scores of 0, 13, 12, 15 and 6 tells the entire story.

Ishant’s monkey face

We all laughed at it, commentators had fun mimicking and it even made some India players smile. But was it good advertisement for cricket? Definitely not. Instead of trying to intimidate the opposition with his bowling, Ishant Sharma tried the simian route that not only left Steve Smith amused but also made former cricketers like Bishan Bedi lose their cool.

India's Ishant Sharma and Murali Vijay (R) celebrate the dismissal of Australia's Matt Renshaw. ( REUTERS )

A ‘brain fade’ worth remembering

Till Steve Smith signalled to the dressing room seeking advice on taking a review, Australia were actually ahead of India in the series. That little ‘brain fade’, prompted by Peter Handscomb’s immature advice, kicked off a storm that refused to die till the end of the series. Virat Kohli’s allegations that Australia had tried to take help from the dressing room before also fanned the controversy as BCCI later formally lodged complaints against Smith and Handscomb.

Sutherland’s peace-betraying comments

For the sake of cricket, BCCI CEO Rahul Johri and Cricket Australia CEO James Sutherland got together when things were getting out of hand with the Indian team filing a complaint against Peter Handscomb and Steve Smith after the Bangalore Test. Peace was brokered and teams were asked to move on. But then Sutherland was quoted as saying that he wasn’t sure if Virat Kohli knows ‘how to spell sorry’. BCCI wouldn’t be blamed if they felt betrayed by this comment.

India's captain Virat Kohli addresses a press conference in Dharamsala. ( AFP )

Australian media’s Kohli witch hunt

Premeditated or not, the consistency with which the Australian media and few ex-cricketers tried to lay into Virat Kohli raised eyebrows. Kohli had pledged peace after his allegations in the Bangalore Test but the Australian media were in clearly no mood to relent. Even after a classic draw in Ranchi, they were not ready to talk about the quality of cricket. This was after Kohli was subject to a racist taunt where he was compared with animals on an online poll. It clearly left a bad taste and a lot of soreness.

ICC’s non reluctance to intervene

When thethe top two sides in world cricket clash, there is bound to be sparks. The ICC’s job is to prevent them from starting a fire. This series however, their presence was limited to Chris Broad’s caustic pitch reports and the two onfield umpires trying hard to douse the fire. But their biggest error was probably not leveling any charge against Steve Smith after seeking help from the dressing room on a referral. It prompted a former cricketer of Sunil Gavsakar’s magnitude to slam the ICC for its ‘favourable treatment’ to some countries.

Pitch talk by the tourists

A rank bad track in Pune and the ICC’s cold reports about the pitches in the first two Tests probably warranted all the talk. But Australia too didn’t play very fair. They took every opportunity to slam the pitches and jumped the gun by deducing that Australia would walk into a conspiracy in Ranchi on a pitch that had Steve Smith said had ‘mud rolled together’. It ended being one of the best pitches.

Australian captain Steve Smith was caught on camera calling Murali Vijay a ‘f***ing cheat’. ( Getty Images )

Steve Smith’s loose rant

Now we all know how influential a batsman Steve Smith has been against India in recent times. He is a superb close-in fielder as well. But all that can’t plug the hole created by his loose rant on TV in the Dharamsala Test when he appeared to call Murali Vijay a ‘f***ing cheat’ for claiming a catch that was later ruled grounded. It again created unnecessary hue and cry on social media at a time both teams should have taken measures to ensure they weren’t caught mouthing unparliamentary language.

The other DRS drama

If India want to be recognised as the top cricket nation they have to get some basics right. Like ensuring the backup generators of the DRS referral systems don’t conk out. For almost 10 overs at the start of the third day in Dharamsala, both teams had to contend with a partially available review system since there was no power in the room housing the DRS operations.

The back-up generator too didn’t work. And for the future, the BCCI could consider adding the Hotspot technology too. Consider how BCCI still earn the big bucks, it shouldn’t burn a hole in their deep pockets.

First Published: Mar 29, 2017 11:38 IST