Traditionally, India-Pakistan matches and Australia-England battles were considered to be the epitome of rivalry in cricket. But at the turn of the century, India and Australia matches have become the fiercest modern rivals. The famous 2001 Kolkata Test could be the inception of this modern age cricketing rivalry. It was believed that Australia were the masters of sledging, but it seems this new breed of Indian cricketers can match them and on occasions give them a taste of their own medicine.
During the late 90s, Australia had mastered the art of playing mind games, something they are good at even now. Starting with the first press conference of a new tour, the Australian captain traditionally targets big players from the opposition. For example, if India was the opposition, Australians would make it clear Sachin Tendulkar was their prime target. At times, it worked and the batsman fell for the trap.
In this article, we will list out the five most fierce sledging moments in India-Australia battles.
1. Virat Kohli & James Faulkner
The incident took place in 2016 during the 3rd ODI at Melbourne. Faulkner was trying to get behind Virat Kohli who was in supreme touch and probably at the top of his game as he had just wrapped up a good Test series. Faulkner was getting chirpy and constantly trying to divert Kohli’s attention. Kohli, being a Delhite, was not going to take it lying down.
Kohli retaliated in his own style as he literally thrashed Faulkner by saying, “You’re wasting your energy. There’s no point. I’ve smashed you enough in my life. Just go and bowl.” Kohli also indicated Faulkner to go back to the bowling crease. Kohli scored 117 in that match although his efforts were in vain as Glenn Maxwell’s strategies saw Australia home.
2. Shikhar Dhawan & Shane Watson
Shane Watson was known for his aggression on the field. Watson was known to get embroiled in fights with many other players, at times unnecessarily. But this time he was at the receiving end, for a change. It was the final ODI between the two sides in 2013 in India. Shikhar Dhawan started the proceedings and another southpaw Raina carried on as they hilariously mimicked Shane Watson. It was Dhawan, who initially started aping Watson’s injury and Raina too was doing the same. This did not go down well with the Australian all-rounder, who instantly got into a heated exchange.
3. Sachin Tendulkar & Glenn McGrath
The two legends are arguably the greatest to have played the gentleman’s game. Sachin Tendulkar and Glenn McGrath, also two of the most respected around the world were at the pinnacle of their career. McGrath had got the better of Sachin in Australia just before the Champions Trophy in 2000. Sachin had a plan to upset McGrath, he danced down the track on occasions to disturb McGrath’s line and length. It seemed to be working for the little master, but that is what got McGrath furious. He walked up to Sachin and asked him to employ the pull again. They also exchanged a few verbal volleys. Sachin eventually fell prey to Brett Lee at 38 runs off 37 balls. India went on to win the match by 20 runs.
4. Rohit Sharma & David Warner
It was the battle of the two openers, not with the bat, but with the gab. The episode panned out at the iconic Melbourne Cricket Ground in 2015. The protagonists were David Warner and Rohit Sharma. Rohit Sharma took a run off an overthrow that hit his body after the Australian keeper Brad Haddin had missed the throw. It is not considered fair to take a run out of such an overthrow although it is not entirely against rules of the game. Warner did not seem to appreciate Rohit’s decision to take the run and went charging at him. According to Sportskeeda, Warner even uttered the words “Speak English” to Rohit Sharma and faced criticism for his remark that was perceived as racist by some. Warner later admitted he was wrong and that it was the pressure of the match that got him in.
5. Virat Kohli & Mitchell Johnson
This one involving two talented cricketers has to be the best. It happened between the fiercest bowler of that time against Virat Kohli who was on the rise and looking to stamp authority. Mitchell Johnson and Virat Kohli locked horns during the Test series in 2014. So here’s what happened: Kohli punched a ball back to Johnson, Johnson picked up the ball and took a shy at the stumps and Virat Kohli was already in the crease. There was no need for the bowler to take a shy at the stumps, but he did and found Kohli in the way of the throw. It hit Virat and hurt him. Virat did not like it. It egged him to retort with the bat and he did it in style, scoring 169 off 272 balls and India managed to secure a draw.
With India India hosting Australia and taking a lead of 1-0, it seems the stage is set for more of these show downs. The second ODI will be played in Kolkata on September 21.