India Down Under: A bittersweet symphony

Here's a look at some of the controversies that cropped up during India's tour of Australia.

updated: March 04, 2008 15:14 IST
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New Delhi:

India's tour of Australia is now complete with some sweet, some bitter memories. Here's looking at some of those incidents when cricket took a backseat and left a sour taste in the mouth.

The Sydney fiasco
Cricket took a backseat in the second Test at Sydney. India had a right to feel, correctly so, that the umpires had done them in. India had at least half a dozen calls against them. With one over left in the game, India let Australia win narrowly when a draw really should have been the result. But a day before that, the cricket world erupted with Andrew Symonds claiming Harbhajan Singh had racially abused him. After the game ended, after a prolonged meeting with umpires, players and board representatives, match referee Mike Procter labelled Harbhajan guilty. The Indian players took offence, saying they would not leave Sydney before the charges were taken back. BCCI stepped in and said the tour would not go on if Harbhajan was not declared innocent. In Adelaide later that month, the ICC appeals commissioner upheld India's plea, bringing down Harbhajan's punishment to 50 per cent of his match fee. Australia felt aggrieved at this, India felt vindicated.

The egg on Muralitharan
There's a reason Muttiah Muralitharan has had apprehensions travelling to Australia. The umpiring has been unkind to him, and the crowd vicious and occasionally racist. Hence, the alarm bells rang in Hobart when an uncouth being in Hobart pelted the Lankan with eggs when he was out for dinner. The Lankans were gracious enough to laugh off the incident, with captain Mahela Jayawardene saying Murali would have chased down the goons had the traffic signal not turned green, allowing them to escape in their car.

Harbhajan gets a send-off
India were hot Australia's trail chasing 318 - again in Sydney. Harbhajan, having played a cameo to revive India's hopes, got out. As he walked off the park, there was a brief exchange of words between him and Ponting. Harbhajan later said Ponting was taunting him. "Show us what you've got," Ponting told Harbhajan, who responded by saying that he had made more runs in the summer than the off-colour Aussie captain. This, according to Harbhajan, peeved Ponting and he abused the Indian and ran back to the team huddle before Harbhajan could respond. Ponting and Adam Gilchrist later said this was just part of the whole story.

Ishant vs Symonds
Earlier, in the same game in Sydney, Ishant Sharma had bowled out Andrew Symonds. Symonds appeared to say something to Ishant on his way back, and the Indian responded by showing the batsman the way to the pavilion. While Ishant was summoned and fined for what was a clear breach of the ICC Code of Conduct, Symonds did was not even called by the match referee for what could have been use of abusive language against the Indian. It led to further bad blood between the two sides, with many feeling that the Australian got off lightly.

'Obnoxious little weed'
Just before the CB Series finals, Matthew Hayden thought it would be funny to go on radio and call Harbhajan Singh an 'obnoxious little weed'. Hayden even said he fancied getting Ishant Sharma in a boxing ring. Cricket Australia stepped in and reprimanded Haydos. Indians thought he got off lightly, Aussie cricketers were enraged this was another instance of their board pandering to the BCCI's whims.

Monkeygate Part 2, almost
In the most recent hullabaloo, the Australian media cooked up a story on how Harbhajan Singh made monkey gestures to racially taunt the Sydney crowd in the first CB Series final. One paper even said the Indian spat at a spectator. There was no conclusive evidence to back the outlandish claims and the matter was given a prompt burial by the ICC.