Melbourne:While Ricky Ponting and his teammates continue to cop criticism for their abrasive demeanour on the field, the indomitable Australian media went on a counter-attack and compiled a rap chart to claim that India is the worst-behaved team under the sun.
The Sunday Telegraph painstakingly collected and collated official ICC data, which shows India having faced more sanctions than any other Test playing nation in the past 10 years.
The daily also took a jibe at former India captain Sourav Ganguly, dubbing him "the game's undisputed problem child, being hauled over the coals by cricket's governing body a record 12 times in his international career."
"Overall, Indian players have been charged for 43 infringements since 1997, for offences including intimidating umpires, abusing rival players, ball tampering, time wasting and widespread dissent," it said.
The report pointed out that of the current touring party, five Indians players -- Ganguly, Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, Virender Sehwag and Harbhajan Singh -- have either been fined or suspended in the past.
"The rap sheet is evidence the Indians are anything but cricketing choirboys as they continue to deny spinner Harbhajan is guilty of racially abusing all-rounder Andrew Symonds," it said.
The newspaper also made an in-depth analysis of the ICC's code of conduct breaches, which shows Pakistan coming close to "India's ill-discipline" with 39 offences, led by former skipper Inzamam-ul-Haq, who has 11 reprimands against his name.
"Despite claims they have worse conduct issues than India, Australia are ranked fourth with 25 infringements. Glenn McGrath (six), Ricky Ponting (four), Adam Gilchrist (four) and Brett Lee (three) are the worst offenders," the daily said, almost with a palpable sense of pride.
The study devoted much time and space for Ganguly, Australia's thorn in the flesh for quite a while.
"...the main protagonist is Ganguly. The ex-skipper has forked out around USD 50,000 in fines for offences ranging from abusing players and umpires to bringing the game into disrepute for failing to control his side.
"In a 15-month period in 2004-05, Ganguly committed a staggering five breaches. His final act of unfair play for time wasting saw him banned for four one-day internationals," it reported.
Harbhajan Singh, currently in the eye of a storm for allegedly racially abusing Andrew Symonds, also found special mention.
"Harbhajan has a history of poor conduct. The first of his five offences came in 1998, when he was fined 50 per cent of his match fee for abusing Australia skipper Ricky Ponting after having him stumped."
S Sreesanth, who had a number of run-in with Symonds during the ODI series in India, did not go unnoticed either.
"Indian paceman Sreesanth is emerging as world cricket's next bad boy. Ruled out of the Test series with injury, he was charged four times in the nine months up to last September."
The report does not spare Dravid and Tendulkar, "seen as two of cricket's most squeaky-clean figures", and mentioned how both were guilty of ball tampering.
Lalit Modi, however, was given a chance to defend the Indian cricketers and the BCCI vice president said the players did not have any attitude problem.
"Sometimes you see sides carry on when the stakes are high but we are not one of them," Modi was quoted as saying.
"I am sure there have been incidents with the Indian team in the past, but in the two years I have been on the board, I have not seen such behaviour problems with our team.
"I am not privy to the facts you have. We have not done such research but our boys are generally well behaved. Most of our players are very good," he said.
West Indian bowling great Michael Holding trod a middle path and said while the Indians are not well behaved, they are not the worst either.
"I have seen a lot of all the teams and I don't find India to be the worst, not at all. I wouldn't say they are well behaved, but they are not the worst. These days there aren't too many well-behaved teams in cricket. Unfortunately, the game has become win at all costs -- whatever it takes to win," he said.