Although India failed to show the intensity with the bat and hence lost the first Test against Australia by 122 runs, the on-field rivalry with players from both sides rubbing each other the wrong was very much there. From Sehwag’s altercation with James Pattinson and Peter Siddle to the occasional chit-chat, the first Test had its moment. But then it is India vs Australia, a rivalry which has a legacy of heated moments. Here is a compilation of some of the famous incidents.
1. Symonds, Bhajji and the Monkeygate: This one has to be the most ‘in’famous of all. During the Sydney Test in 2008, Australian all-rounder Andrew Symonds blamed Indian spinnerHarbhajan Singhof racially abusing him and calling him a monkey. Bhajji was banned and after much furore and a hearing, the ban was uplifted. It was finally settled that it was actually a Hindi cuss word that Bhajji used that sounded like ‘monkey’.
2. Watson Vs Ishant: During the last year’s series, Australian all-rounder Shane Watson, who was stunned with his dismissal, was asked by bowler Ishant Sharma to stay away from the wicket and start walking back to the pavilion. Watson, refusing to comment from the crease however, made sure he was near the middle of the wicket before attacking Sharma verbally.
3. Waugh Vs Parthiv Patel: India’s wicketkeeper on their 2003-04 tour was Parthiv Patel, who tried sledging Steve Waugh, who was playing his last Test innings at the Sydney Cricket Ground in January 2004. Waugh wrote in his autobiography Out of My Comfort Zone: "Parthiv Patel chirped at me with a sly, 'Let's finish it off with a slog sweep.' The quip was music to my ears. Firstly, it engaged me into a chat, which I never minded, and secondly, it had come from a young pup. The art of good banter is to come back quickly and with something that hits the mark. Quite calmly I swung around and said to his face, 'Listen, mate, how about showing a bit of respect? When I played my first Test, you were still running around in nappies.'
4. Damien Martyn Vs Irfan Pathan: During the ODI tri-series in 2003-04, Irfan Pathan, who was playing his first international series, was too excited after picking the wicket of Damien Martyn. He clapped on his face while he was going back to the pavilion. Martyn gave him a mouthful before complaining to the umpire.
5. Ravi Shastri Vs Whitney: When Ravi Shastri hit the ball towards Whitney (the 12th man in the game) and looked for a single, the Australian said: “If you leave the crease I’ll break your f***ing head”. Shastri retorted with equal vengeance, “If you could bat as well as you can talk you wouldn’t be the f***ing 12th man”. Now that’s some real sledging.
6. Zaheer Khan Vs Ricky Ponting: It was during the Mohali Test in 2010 when Ponting and Zaheer had an altercation. After being dismissed at 71, Ponting was going back to pavilion but couldn’t see Indian team celebrating his dismissal and tried to annoy Zaheer. Not to be bogged down, Zaheer retorted and had to be pacified by skipper MS Dhoni.
7. Simon Katich Vs Gautam Gambhir in 2008: It was literally a battle between the openers. While Gambhir was stealing a single, Katich elbowed, which appeared deliberate. An otherwise coy Gambhir, showed his aggressive strike and got into a heated argument with the Australian opener.
8. Harbhajan Vs Ponting: These two players share a decade long rivalry. It started in 1998 when Harbhajan got Ponting out stumped in a one-dayer in Sharjah. He abused him and pointed towards the dressing room. Ponting reacted angrily and returned verbal fire. Both were fined by the match referee.
During the last tour, Harbhajan took a jibe at Ponting when he was asked why he had been so dominant against a man who has, in recent times, treated most other bowlers with contempt.
"He hasn't batted for long enough against me, so I don't know," Harbhajan said.