Free Press Journal

India vs Australia: 10 shocking controversies during contests between the two teams


The India vs Australia series has always been a fiercely fought between the two sides. Be it on-field or off-field, the players’ two sides have always given an avid cricket fan enough entertainment. And the much-highlighted example of such a feud has been the Bhajji-Symmo spat leading to the ‘Monkeygate’ scandal. Over the years cricket fans have had the pleasure to witness some of the most closely fought matches between these two teams. India and Australia are now getting ready to renew their rivalry on the field in the upcoming ODI and T20I series which starts from September 17.

The quality of cricket is so intense that players often get into altercations and verbal wars on the field. There is no margin for error and that is why from time to time both teams have tried to get on the top of the opposition by resorting to sledging and playing with batsmen’s minds. There have been some unfortunate and controversial incidents in the past which are hard to overlook ahead of the series.

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Here’s a look at the ten forgettable moments from the India vs Australia 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.

Ishant Sharma’s monkey face


We all laughed at it, commentators had fun mimicking and it even made some India players smiled. 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.

Kohli and Johnson argument

Virat Kohli unleashed a verbal barrage of his own in reply to what he claimed to be disrespectful comments coming from the Aussies during India’s tour in 2014-15. Kohli accused the hosts of calling him a spoilt brat that apparently didn’t go down well with him. Kohli, who’s never shy to express his emotions, targeted Australia’s bowling spearhead Mitchell Johnson. The tensions simmered in the Melbourne Test when Kohli was struck by Johnson’s throw after the Kohli had pushed it back towards the Aussie bowler. Johnson’s throw immediately brought down the batsman and though the bowler immediately apologised for his actions, Kohli was clearly not amused. Kohli and Johnson were engrossed in a heated argument until Umpire Richard Kettleborough intervened to calm the two players down.

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Sunil Gavaskar’s Almighty Strop

The then Indian captain Sunil Gavaskar suffered a massive meltdown during the 1981 Melbourne Test when he threatened to forfeit the match after being given out lbw on 70 off Aussie great Dennis Lillee. Sunny was adamant that the ball had hit his bat first and remonstrated with both Lillee and the umpire before reluctantly starting his walk from the crease while shaking his head vehemently. He instructed fellow opener, Chetan Chauhan, to leave with him and the pair headed for the boundary. A swift intervention from then Indian manager Shahid Durrani prevented Chauhan from leaving the field which would have resulted in the visitors conceding the match and incurring a suspension. Gavaskar later said he regretted his “inexcusable behaviour”.

Sachin ‘Shoulder out’

Indian fans still rage about the umpire’s decision during the 1999 Adelaide Test that saw Sachin dismissed effectively for ‘shoulder before wicket’. During the first Test, a Glenn McGrath bouncer saw Sachin Tendulkar duck and even as the ball came and hit him on the shoulder. The Little Master who stands at 5ft 4in (1.65m), attempted to duck a Glenn McGrath bouncer, only for the ball to keep low and hit his left shoulder. Some replays suggested the ball may have clipped the top of the stumps, but most were inconclusive. He was subsequently given leg-before by Australian umpire Daryl Harper leading to a raging controversy.

Ganguly Keeps Waugh Waiting

The former Indian skipper Sourav Ganguly so enraged his opposition captain Steve Waugh during Australia’s tour of India in 2001 that the Aussie captain accused him of lack of respect. Waugh was furious that Ganguly kept turning up late for the toss. Waugh wrote in his autobiography that he was ‘wound up’ by the left-handed batsman’s ‘continued petulance’. Ganguly, nicknamed the Prince of Kolkata for the air of superiority that he carried on and off the field, initially maintained that his tardiness had been a mistake. Years later he revealed that he had turned up a few minutes late on purpose each time to teach the Aussies a lesson for their rude behaviour.

Infamous ‘Monkeygate’

The monkeygate scandal is perhaps the worst incident which took place between India and Australia and certainly one of the most unfortunate episodes in international cricket. It was during the second Test of 2007-08 Border-Gavaskar series in Sydney when off-spinner Harbhajan Singh got into an ugly verbal spat with Aussie all-rounder Andrew Symonds, with reputed players like Sachin Tendulkar, Matthew Hayden, Ricky Ponting and Michael Clarke also getting involved in it. The ‘Monkeygate’ erupted, almost causing the tour to be called off. Symonds accused Bhajji of calling him a monkey. Harbhajan, who denied any wrong-doing, was suspended for three matches for the alleged racist slur. The ban was overturned when India threatened to quit the tour, claiming he had been wrongly accused. The allegations prompted India captain Anil Kumble to say that only one team was playing in the spirit of the game. Australia won the match and went on to take the series 2-1.

Kohli showing the finger

Four years after ‘Monkeygate’, came the ‘fingergate’ when Delhi’s young and angry lad Virat Kohli let the rowdy Sydney Test crowd get to him. Kohli was fielding in the deep when he was on the receiving end of some unpleasant chants from the famous vocal fans and responded by flashing the middle finger. It was caught get on camera and Kohli, was fined 50 per cent of his match fee for bringing the game into disrepute. He later defended his response on Twitter: “I agree cricketers don’t have to retaliate. what (sic) when the crowd says the worst things about your mother and sister. the worst I’ve heard.”

David Warner to Rohit Sharma: ‘Speak English’

The Aussie opener David Warner is famous for two things, one for his aggressive batting style and second sledging the opposition players. Warner was in the thick of things once again and later got into trouble when he was heard on the stumps mikes telling Rohit Sharma to ‘speak English’ in a heated argument during the second ODI of the tri-series in January in 2015. The Australian fielders had taken offence when the Indians went for a single off an overthrow which they wrongly believed was in breach of cricket etiquette. Warner later defended himself but went on to lose 50 percent of his match fee for his actions.

Gautam Gambhir elbows Shane Watson

It was Australia’s turn to face the heat when they came to India in 2008 for the Border-Gavaskar series and they had to face a lot taunts and abuse from the home crowd. During the home series, Indian opener Gautam Gambhir and Aussie all-rounder Shane Watson were involved in an on-field skirmish. Gambhir, who appeared to have been provoked by Watson while he was taking his first run off the Aussie, nudged the bowler when he crossed him while completing the second run. Watson, who was bowling at the time, appeared to have irked Gambhir by saying something when he was taking a run to which Gambhir replied by pushing his elbow into Watson’s chest while taking the second run. Gambhir later claimed that it was an accident and went on to score his maiden double-century, but was banned for the next Test.