Reliving 5 most controversial moments in India-Australia Tests ahead of the WTC final

WTC final
Indian and Australian cricketers have been involved in various controversies.

Team India will square off against Australia in the ICC World Test Championship (WTC) final at the Kennington Oval from Wednesday, June 7, onwards. This will be India's second attempt at winning the mace after losing to New Zealand in the final of the first edition two years ago.

The rivalry between India and Australia goes a long way, with the fixtures having produced some of the most exciting Test matches in history. Overall, both teams have locked horns in 106 Tests, with Australia winning 44 times. India, on the other hand, have emerged victorious on 32 occasions, while 29 matches ended in a draw.

While there have been many fierce battles between bat and ball, fans have also witnessed many controversies over the years.

On that note, let's relive the five most controversial moments in India-Australia Tests.

#1 Monkeygate (Sydney, 2007-08)

The Sydney Test during India's 2007-08 tour of Australia was one of the lowest points in the history of the sport.

Late Australian all-rounder Andrew Symonds alleged that Harbhajan Singh made racist remarks, calling him a 'monkey.' Former skipper Ricky Ponting and Matthew Hayden were seen having a long chat with Harbhajan after Symonds labeled charges against him.

Harbhajan was later banned and the Indian contingent was clearly unhappy with the developments and threatened to withdraw from the tour.

The ban was later overturned by Adelaide’s federal court and the off-spinner was found innocent on account of inconclusive evidence.

#2 Sunil Gavaskar and Chetan Chauhan walk off (Melbourne, 1980-81)

Former Indian skipper Sunil Gavaskar is known for his calm demeanor on the cricket field. However, on one instance, Gavaskar lost his cool after Denis Lillee gave him a fiery send-off in the Melbourne Test during the 1980-81 tour.

The right-handed batter was adjudged out lbw but Gavaskar insisted that he had hit the ball before it crashed onto his pad. He stood his ground for a long time before making the long walk back to the pavilion.

This is when Lillee hurled some comments, which irked the Indian batter. Gavaskar then asked non-striker Chetan Chauhan to walk off the ground with him.

Team manager Shahid Durrani and assistant manager Bapu Nadkarni had to intervene and stop Chauhan from coming out of the ground.

Thirty years later, Gavaskar regretted the incident, saying that he cannot justify his actions.

"I regret the decision. It was a big mistake on my part. As an Indian captain, I was not supposed to act in that manner. In no way I can justify my act of defiance. Whether I was out or not, I should not have reacted that way," Gavaskar said in a chat show back in 2014.

#3 Virat Kohli vs Australian crowd (Sydney, 2012)

A young Virat Kohli embarked on his first Australia tour with the Indian team during 2011-12. He was still an unfinished product back then and received a hostile welcome from the Aussie crowd.

By the time he reached Sydney for the third Test, he had nothing to show for his efforts with the bat. As the match unfolded, Kohli found himself embroiled in controversy.

As Kohli was fielding on the boundary, the Australian crowd hurled abuses at him. The turn of events got the better of Kohli's emotions and the star batter was seen showing his middle finger to the crowd.

In an interview with Cricket Monthly, Kohli revealed that match referee Ranjan Madugalle was kind enough to not hand him a ban.

"The match referee (Ranjan Madugalle) called me to his room the next day and I’m like, ‘What’s wrong?’ He said, ‘What happened at the boundary yesterday?’ I said, ‘Nothing, it was a bit of banter,'" Kohli said.
“Then he threw the newspaper in front of me and there was this big image of me flicking on the front page and I said, ‘I’m so sorry, please don’t ban me!’ I got away with that one. He was a nice guy, he understood I was young and these things happen," he added.

#4 Steve Smith's brain-fade moment (Bengaluru, 2017)

Former Australian skipper Steve Smith is known to be a street-smart cricketer. He tries to find different ways to get things done and sometimes falls on the wrong side of the spectrum.

One such incident took place during Australia's 2017 tour of India. During the second Test in Bengaluru, Smith was trapped lbw by Umesh Yadav. The right-handed batter wasn't sure whether to opt for the DRS and looked at his partner before looking at the dressing room for some signal.

It didn't go unnoticed and the then-Indian skipper Virat Kohli immediately reported the incident to the umpire. Nigel Llong then asked Smith to walk off.

While Kohli termed the whole incident as 'cheating,' Smith later admitted that it was a mistake on his part.

“It was a bit of a brain fade on my behalf and I shouldn’t have done that,” Smith said later.

#5 Australian crowd hurling racial slur at Mohammed Siraj and Jasprit Bumrah (Sydney, 2021)

The Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) has been at the heart of many controversies in the past, including the infamous 'Monkeygate' saga.

During the third Test of India's tour of Australia in 2020-21, India's leading fast bowlers, Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Siraj, were subjected to racial abuse from the crowd. They immediately informed stand-in skipper Ajinkya Rahane, who lodged an official complaint with the umpires.

While the play was halted for quite some time, the Indian cricketers didn't leave the ground. Later, six people were expelled from the stadium by the authorities.

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Edited by Samya Majumdar
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