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Rediff.com  » Sports » Gambhir ban again sours India-Australia clash

Gambhir ban again sours India-Australia clash

November 01, 2008 12:30 IST

Batsman Gautam Gambhir's one-Test ban has again drawn attention to the acrimony that has marred India's recent tussles with Australia.

Gambhir was suspended by International Cricket Council (ICC) match referee Chris Broad on Friday for elbowing Shane Watson while taking a run on the opening day of the third Test in New Delhi on Wednesday.

Australia all-rounder Watson was fined for provoking the batsman, the incident bringing to a head a series of verbal clashes forcing the umpires to intervene.

Gambhir was also fined for barging into Shahid Afridi in a one-dayer against Pakistan last November.

The Board of Control for Cricket in India has lodged an appeal against his latest ban, which would allow the 27-year-old to play in the fourth and final Test.

This series started in the shadow of India's tour to Australia in January when spinner Harbhajan Singh was at the centre of another storm.

India then overstepped the line again when paceman Zaheer Khan was fined 80 percent of his fee in the second-Test win in Mohali for a verbal send-off of opener Matthew Hayden after the Australia opener had been dismissed.

Players from both sides made good-behaviour pledges before the series but have since shown scant regard to Broad.

Some pundits say the Indians are adopting a tit-for-tat approach against Australia, who have long been accused of gamesmanship by sledging rival players.

"It is a sign of self-belief," former India captain Ravi Shastri said. "Give back as good as you get but make sure you don't cross the line and look stupid.

"It is India who have played well against Australia in the last three or four years."

PIETERSEN PRAISE

Shastri said England skipper Kevin Pietersen had shown the best way to tackle Australia was to stand up to them.

"Kevin has shown he is capable of backing his words by taking that extra pressure upon himself and performing," he said.

Shastri backed Gambhir's ban and warned players against violating the spirit of the game but also said the Indian verbal response was having its effect on Australia, who trail 1-0 in the series.

In the controversial Sydney Test in January, Harbhajan was initially banned after being found guilty of racially abusing Australia all-rounder Andrew Symonds.

India threatened to pull out of the tour if the ban was upheld and he was eventually let-off with a fine after the charge was downgraded to use of abusive language.

The attitude of the Indian players has changed markedly since they won the Twenty20 World Cup in 2007, beating Australia on their way.

During this series Zaheer, VVS Laxman and India vice-captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni have dubbed Ricky Ponting's side too defensive.

Some pundits say India's young, self-confident players are more aggressive but that the captains should help ease the tension and ensure the focus of attention is firmly on the playing of the game rather than side issues.

N Ananthanarayanan in Delhi
Source:
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