Anil Kumble
Anil Kumble

Former India skipper and veteran spinner Anil Kumble recalled the Monkeygate scandal of 2008 during India's tour of Australia.

The Sydnest Test made headlines for umpiring errors during the match and the infamous spat between Harbhajan Singh and Andrew Symonds that was later known as Monkeygate incident.

The controversies ended up overshadowing what was otherwise a high-quality match featuring as many as five centuries, including an unbeaten 162 from Symonds. Australia dramatically won the game by 122 runs with minutes to spare on the final day.

The Monkeygate incident that revolved around Singh and Symonds ended with the former being handed a three-match ban by the International Cricket Council.

Kumble, who was the captain at the time, recalled the Monkeygate incident and said that Singh was wronged and that was the general consensus in the team dressing room.

"As a captain you're generally tuned to take decisions on the field. Here I was faced with something, which was off the field, to take a decision in the larger interest of the game," Kumble told Ravichandran Ashwin during latter's YouTube show 'DRSWithAsh'.

"And one of our players (Harbhajan Singh) was obviously banned for three matches because of a racist remark - that was what the pronouncement was and we appealed. I felt he was wronged.

"We had to obviously be together as a team but the challenge was that there was a lot of talk about the team wanting to come back at that point in time, and leave the tour and come back.

"Yes, you know, probably (people) would have accepted that the Indian team was wronged and that's why they came back," he added.

At the time, there was clamour within certain sections that Team India should abandon the tour mid-way and return to India. Kumble, however, stated that senior players did well to keep the team together during those tough times and that helped them achieve positive results in the final two matches of the series.

"I think as a captain, or as a team, we had gone there to win the series. Unfortunately, with the first two results not going our way, the best result could have been a drawn series because two more Test matches remained and I just wanted to rally around the team. I was fortunate enough to have senior players, former captains, in the team," he added.

Following losses in first two Tests, India did well to make a comeback in the third match in Perth and won it by 72 runs. The fourth and final Test ended in a draw as Australia clinched the series 2-1.

Kumble had led India in 14 Tests, winning three, losing six and drawing five times after taking over the reigns from Rahul Dravid in 2007. He is the world's all time third highest Test wicket-taker in an illustrious career between 1990 and 2008.

(with inputs from agencies)

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