India’s tour to Australia has been intense, dramatic and packed with numerous instances of on-field sledging. Some have involved light banter while others have been downright ugly. Players have often laughed it off while some players took it personally and had a showdown. In the last couple of years, series between Australia and India have had plenty of sledging instances. With Virat Kohli, an aggressive skipper who does not back down at the helm of the current Indian team, the upcoming contest against a weak but dangerous Australian side who are known to be masters of sledging in home conditions promises more fire. Ahead of the four-Test series which begins in Adelaide on December 6, we look at the most memorable instances of sledging between India and Australia in Tests Down Under over the years.
1.) ‘You were still in your nappies’
The Sydney Test in 2004 was Steve Waugh’s final Test in his glorious career. Australia were under the pump in their pursuit of 443 and it was left to Waugh to save the Test and the series. During his knock, 19-year-old wicketkeeper Parthiv Patel decided to sledge the individual who had termed sledging as ‘mental disintegration’. Parthiv told Waugh, “Come on, just one more of the famous slog-sweeps before you finish.” Waugh responded, “Respect me. When I made my Test debut, you were still in your nappies.” Waugh played the slog sweep and holed out to Sachin Tendulkar off Anil Kumble for 80 as Australia saved the Test and a glorious career ended. However, Parthiv had the last laugh on Waugh’s farewell.
2.) Monkeygate and ugly cricket
If Sydney 2004 witnessed a competitive match, then Sydney 2008 was marred by scandal, ugly cricket and a threat of India pulling out of the tour. India were incensed by poor umpiring as Andrew Symonds was let-off thrice. In response, India’s batsmen were at the receiving end of some umpiring blunders from Steve Bucknor. However, the major scandal that erupted in the match was Monkeygate. During India’s innings, Symonds accused Harbhajan Singh of calling him a Monkey. After the end of the acrimonious match which saw India lose by 122 runs, Harbhajan was charged with racial abuse by match referee Mike Proctor and banned for three Tests. India threatened to withdraw from the tour and after an intervention from the ICC, the charges and the ban was dropped. The Monkeygate scandal soured relations between the players for many years.
3.) Varun Aaron’s misfired COME ON fires up David Warner
In an emotionally charged Adelaide Test, Varun Aaron bowled David Warner for 66 and he was absolutely elated, shouting “Come On” to the batsman as he departed. However, television replays showed that the bowler overstepped and when Warner came back, the batsman left a full ball alone and mocked Aaron by shouting “Come On”. Following the altercation, Warner, who went on to hit two hundreds in the Test, was involved in a verbal duel with Shikhar Dhawan and he also pushed Virat Kohli away from Steve Smith after Smith had passed a comment on Rohit Sharma. Reflecting on the events of the match, the left-hander admitted that it was wrong to go after Aaron. “I sort of went at him a little bit, I shouldn't have, but it got me into another contest and to start again from there,” Warner told ESPNCricinfo.
4.) Rohit Sharma mocks Mitchell Johnson, India pay heavy price
In the Brisbane Test, India had reached 408 thanks to a magnificent 144 by Murali Vijay. In response, Australia were struggling at 250/6 when Mitchell Johnson came to bat with Steve Smith. Rohit Sharma decided to be aggressive and baited Johnson. Rohit leaned and clapped to Johnson when he came to bat and exchanged some words. However, the sledge backfired dramatically as Johnson blasted 88 off 93 balls and shared a 148-run stand with Steve Smith as Australia reached 505, a lead of 97. Boosted by the bat, Johnson ran through the Indian batting to take figures of 4/61, including Rohit for 0 as Australia won the Test by four wickets and extended their series lead to 2-0.
5.) Johnson and Kohli slug it out on Boxing Day
The Boxing Day Test in 2014 saw Virat Kohli and Johnson engage in a real slugfest. With the current Indian skipper batting beautifully, Johnson attempted a non-existent run-out, but the ball hit Kohli on the body and he winced in pain. However, he got up and carted Johnson to all parts of the MCG. After hitting a boundary, Kohli made it clear that the move by Johnson to fling the ball back at him was not on. After another sledging attempt by Johnson, Kohli hit a lofted boundary and blew a couple of kisses in the bowler’s direction. During his knock of 169, his battle with Johnson was the highlight as India drew the Test. Speaking after the match, Kohli remarked, “I respect a few of them but if someone doesn’t respect me, I have no reason to respect him. I was really annoyed with him hitting me with the ball, and I told him that’s not on. Try and hit the stumps next time, not my body. You have got to send the right message across.”