Former batsman VVS Laxman has highlighted India were denied a victory in the 2008 Sydney Test against Australia because of umpiring howlers.
The aforementioned Test match is one of the darkest chapters in the history of the modern game. Besides the 'Monkeygate Scandal' involving Harbhajan Singh and Andrew Symonds, India being on the wrong end of grave mistakes committed by the umpires made headlines the world over.
In the recent edition of the Star Sports show Cricket Connected, VVS Laxman was asked if the 'Monkeygate' episode is his murkiest cricketing memory and if it was the Australians' arrogance that led to it.
While not blaming the Aussie arrogance, the soft-spoken Laxman responded India were denied a great chance to draw parity in the Test series.
"I wouldn't call it the Aussie arrogance. But I just feel after losing the Melbourne Test we had a great chance of winning the Sydney Test match. Yes, it will be remembered more for the Monkeygate but I thought we had a great chance of winning that Test match," said Laxman
VVS Laxman elaborated that Andrew Symonds went on to score a match-winning century after enjoying multiple reprievals because of umpiring errors.
"The bowlers, especially when we started bowling in the first innings took early wickets. Australia were under pressure and then Andrew Symonds, I think he was out two or three times and the umpires made huge blunders. I cannot ever forget the way I think RP Singh got the knick of Symonds," added Laxman
Symonds got a thick outside edge to MS Dhoni behind the stumps, but umpire Steve Bucknor ignored India's vociferous appeal. The burly middle-order batsman was only on 30 runs at the time and went on to score an unbeaten 162.
"There was a big sound but the umpire ruled not out. Unfortunately, that led to Andrew Symonds getting a big hundred and after that what followed, especially on the last day, the way Sourav and Rahul were out I think was in very poor taste," stated VVS Laxman
Dravid was given caught behind when his bat was nowhere near the ball as it went through to Adam Gilchrist after striking the pads.
Ganguly, on the other hand, was given the marching orders when Michael Clarke seemed to have touched the ball on the turf while taking his catch in the slips.
"Anil Kumble as the captain acted like a diplomat" - VVS Laxman
VVS Laxman recalled India were almost ready to return home after Harbhajan Singh was initially deemed guilty of having racially abused Andrew Symonds.
"The Monkeygate issue was blown out of proportion. At one time we thought we will call off the series," said Laxman
VVS Laxman signed off by expressing his happiness that the series was not halted and praised then-Indian skipper Anil Kumble for handling the situation very well.
"Anil as the captain acted like a diplomat. I think the BCCI ultimately made the right decision and we continued with the series," concluded Laxman
Harbhajan Singh was eventually found not guilty of having aimed a racial slur at Andrew Symonds. But the entire sequence of events charged the Indian team and they went on to defeat Australia on the bouncy Perth pitch in the following Test match.Published 05 Jan 2021, 12:23 IST