From Mankading to Monkeygate, top five controversies to rock India-Australia matches
India and Australia are two of cricket’s biggest teams in terms of success and popularity. Therefore, sparks are bound to fly when these two Titans clash. Here we look at five controversies that have rocked the rivalry over the years.
The Birth of Mankading
The 1947-48 season saw India tour Australia for the first time. India lost the series 4-0 but grabbed a lot of headlines through ‘Mankading’. Though non-striking batsmen have been run out while backing up from the crease before, Mankad’s dismissal of Bill Brown was the first instance of it happening in a Test match.
It all started in a tour match between India and an Australian XI. Brown was warned once by Mankad against stealing a run. However, the Australian paid no heed and attempted to steal a run once again. This time, Mankad whipped the bails off. Cut to the second Test, and Brown, not having learned his lesson, attempted to back up yet again. Mankad ran him out without a warning. Though Mankad found support in Australian captain Don Bradman, the Australian press criticised his “unsportsmanlike conduct”. Even though Mankad was in the right, the dismissal was given his name and Mankading was born.
Sunil Gavaskar threatens to forfeit the match
India’s 1980-81 Tour of India was a productive one as a captain for Sunil Gavaskar as it was the first time in 17 years that India had not lost the series Down Under. However, it was a largely barren campaign for Sunil Gavaskar the batsman. The Little Master could only score 118 runs as a dismal average of 19.66 in three matches.
Going into the third Test at the MCG, Gavaskar had only scored 38 runs and was looking in good nick at 70 in the second Test when things went awry. Gavaskar was trapped LBW by a Dennis Lille off-cutter and umpire Rex Whitehead lost no time in raising his finger. Taken aback, Gavaskar remonstrated that the ball had hit his bat first but to no avail. He started walking back to the pavilion only to double back and ordered partner Chetan Chauhan to walk off with him. The Indian team manager had to plead with Gavaskar at the boundary line not to forfeit the match and the skipper thankfully relented. India went on to skittle the Aussies for 83 in the final innings to win the match and level the series 1-1.
“Only one team was playing in the spirit of the game, that’s all I can say,” so said Indian captain Anil Kumble at the end of a fiery contest that saw accusations of racism and poor umpiring mar a brilliant Test match in Sydney.
After two days of good cricket, things came to a boiling point on day three when Andrew Symonds accused Harbhajan Singh of racial abuse. The on-field umpires reported the incident to the referee who banned Harbhajan for three matches. An incensed India appealed against the ban and suspended the tour until the end of the hearing. In the end, India resumed the tour and Harbhajan was acquitted by ICC. However, the incident strained India-Australia relations for years to come.
Virat Kohli loses his cool at SCG
Four years after ‘Monkeygate’, India were involved in another controversy at Sydney after a young Virat Kohli was caught flipping off the SCG crowd. On the second day, Kohli was stationed at the boundary where he was constantly being heckled by the boisterous home crowd. Riled up, Kohli responded by showing them the middle finger. The incident was dubbed ‘Fingergate’ by local media and Kohli took to social media to defend himself. Match referee Ranjan Madugale docked half of Kohlil’s match fee but did not give him a one-match ban.
Kohli was lucky to get away with the incident and commented in an interview in 2018, “I really laugh at a lot of the things I did when I was younger but I'm proud that I did not change my ways because I was always going to be who I am and not change for the world or for anyone else. I was pretty happy with who I was.”
Steve Smith’s Brain fade
The late 2010s saw the emergence of Steve Smith as one of the world’s best Test batsmen as the Australian captain amassed runs wherever he went along with memorable wins. However, this period also saw him suffer ignominy after being labelled a cheat. Before ‘Sandpapergate’, there was the ‘Brain fade’. Cut to the second Test of Australia’s tour of India in 2016-17 in Bangalore.
Fighting to save the Test, Smith was given out lbw off Umesh Yadav. With the DRS timer ticking, Smith first consulted with partner Peter Handscomb before looking up to his dressing room for guidance. Virat Kohli was quick to spot the exchange and furiously complained to the on-field umpires. Smith had no option but to walk off. In the post-match presser, Smith apologised for what he termed to be a “brain fade”. Kohli, though, was having none of it and went after the Australian team stopping short of calling them cheats. A year later, Smith and vice-captain David Warner would end up being suspended for the infamous ‘Sandpapergate’.Modified 12 Jan 2020, 12:14 IST