We take a look at some of the biggest controversies that have taken place in past Test encounters between India and Australia.
As India finishes its limited-overs projects, the Test series against Australia takes centre stage. The Men in Blue will don the whites after more than a month and for the first time in 2023. India vs Australia is one of the most anticipated Test series of the year, especially since Australia have not played a Test in India since the 2016-17 season. Meanwhile, India travelled Down Under twice and came out victorious on both occasions.
The Indo-Australian rivalry, however, has not been without its fair share of controversies either given Australia has been controversy’s favourite child for more than a generation of cricket.
While some more heated face-offs and some sweet banters are expected at the Border-Gavaskar series, we take a look at some of the infamous incidents from past face-offs between these two sides in the five-day format:
Sunil Gavaskar and Chetan Chauhan walk off, Melbourne, 1981
In a rare instance, Sunil Gavaskar lost his cool after then-Aussie speedster Dennis Lillee said a few words as he scalped India’s star batter. Gavaskar was already irked as he was given out LBW to an in-cutter from Lillee but he thought that he had edged the ball before it went onto his pad. Gavaskar stood his ground long enough and was reluctant to leave. He also hit his pad with the bat to show his frustration.
Sunil Gavaskar on the infamous MCG walk off. #Wrong1 #SunilGavaskar #Gavaskar #MCGWalkOff #MCG pic.twitter.com/QJGe2ikBmz
— Wrong1 Cricket (@wrong1cricket) January 1, 2021
As Gavaskar started to walk back, Lillee made some unwarranted comments and that got Gavaskar furious. He then asked Chetan Chauhan to walk off the ground with him.
Team manager Shahid Durani and assistant manager Bapu Nadkarni met the duo at the boundary line and calmed them down. Chauhan eventually went back to the crease to resume play.
Gavaskar, three decades later, would say that he regretted the incident.
The Monkey Gate saga, Sydney, 2008
The 2008 Sydney Test was one of the lowest points in cricket, not just for the two nations involved but for the sport itself.
Harbhajan Singh was heard referring to Andrew Symonds as ‘monkey’ and was alleged to have made racist remarks whereas he had actually said something to the tune of ‘teri ma ki’, a slur commonly used in India, especially in the northern parts.
Australia captain Ricky Ponting and Matthew Hayden had a long discussion with the Indian spinner after Symonds blamed him. There were also charges placed against him.
Harbhajan was banned after the charges were levied and India, clearly disappointed with the ban, threatened to withdraw from the tour.
The matter eventually went to Adelaide’s federal court and the off-spinner was found ‘not guilty’ on account of inconclusive evidence.
Years later, Harbhajan revealed that religious abuses were hurled at him — “You have testicles on your head” for wearing his turban.
Interestingly, this is the same match wherein Ponting had claimed Sourav Ganguly’s catch in the slips and asked umpire Steve Bucknor, who was not sure if the catch was completed clean, to adjudge it ‘out’ by raising his finger.
Virat Kohli vs Australian crowd, Sydney, 2012
This is one of the rarest incidents on a cricket field that Virat Kohli would want to forget as the Indian star had told Wisden’s Cricket Monthly in an interview.
Kohli was hurled abuses quite consistently from the crowd. He had enough of it and finally showed his middle finger to the crowd. Kohli’s image was all over the newspapers the next day.
Kohli narrated the incident, “The match referee (Ranjan Madugalle) called me to his room the next day and I’m like, ‘What’s wrong?’ He said, ‘What happened at the boundary yesterday?’ I said, ‘Nothing, it was a bit of banter’.
“Then he threw the newspaper in front of me and there was this big image of me flicking on the front page and I said, ‘I’m so sorry, please don’t ban me!’ I got away with that one. He was a nice guy, he understood I was young and these things happen.”
Steve Smith’s brain fade, Bengaluru, 2017
Steve Smith had been notorious and at times, tried to adopt the wrong means to get the right results. One of the incidents that brought this to light happened in 2017 in Bengaluru, which Smith termed as a ‘brain fade’.
Smith was adjudged LBW off Umesh Yadav’s bowling in the second innings. He looked at his partner Peter Handscomb first and then at the dressing room to ask them if he should opt for DRS.
The Indians were furious at this and Kohli also reported the matter to the umpires. Nigel Llong then asked Smith to walk off.
“It was a bit of a brain fade on my behalf and I shouldn’t have done that,” Smith later acknowledged that he had erred.
Mohammed Siraj and Jasprit Bumrah’s racial abuse, Sydney, 2021
Sydney has been like one of the spoiled children of Cricket Australia and it has been at the centre of major controversies. It is almost customary for a dispute to take part in a game as the players in Sydney.
India’s frontline pacer Jasprit Bumrah and youngster Mohammed Siraj faced racial abuse from the crowd while fielding at the boundary line for two days. The Indian team management was forced to make an official complaint with match referee David Boon.
JUST IN: Media Release from @CricketAus, following 6 fans being ejected from the #SCG after alleged racial abuse towards India’s Mohammed Siraj. #AUSvIND #AUSvINDtest @6NewsAU pic.twitter.com/p0uzyE7Zb9
— Leonardo Puglisi (@Leo_Puglisi6) January 10, 2021
The umpires had offered the Indian team to leave the match but then Indian skipper Ajinkya Rahane, who was standing in absence of Virat Kohli, said that they will continue to play.
After the complaint, six people from the crowd were expelled from the stadium.
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