Why India’s 2018 tour of Australia promises to be so different from the others

first_imgThe Scaredy Bats, screamed an Australian newspaper as India’s cricket stars landed in Adelaide for the first Test of what is expected to be a high-profile series. The Scaredy Bats! The tabloid claimed India were scared of playing at different venues in India – the fear of the unknown, the fear of the dark etc etc.The Australian public, still reeling from the ball-tampering shock, were outraged. They slammed the media for their negativity – the Australian people were having none of it. They wanted their media to show respect.Even to India, possibly Australia’s biggest cricketing rival in the modern era.India-Australia series in the past have been marked by acrimony, bitter verbal wars and accusations of cheating. Look back at Australia’s tour of India 17 years ago and you could see the sparks flying. Steve Waugh was none too happy when Sourav Ganguly made him wait for the toss.Even the calm Rahul Dravid was drawn into an altercation with Michael Slater in a series where India stopped Australia’s record winning streak.But relations between the two sides would sour further.India’s tour of Australia in 2007-08 was marred by the Monkeygate scandal at the Sydney Cricket Ground. Andrew Symonds accused Harbhajan Singh of racial abuse and the fall-out threatened to create a rift between two of world cricket’s biggest superpowers.The emergence of the Indian Premier League helped ease the tension between Indian and Australian cricketers to an extent but there was still the odd flare-up. Gautam Gambhir and Shane Watson were charged with spirit of the game offences during the Delhi Test of 2008.advertisementThat was not the end of it.Recent series have been just as dramatic.In 2014, Kohli and Johnson often exchanged sharp words on the field. In 2017, Kohli was left fuming at Steve Smith’s decision to seek dressing room help for the DRS. By the end of that series, Kohli had even decided he could not be friends with a couple of Australia’s cricketers. In 2014, Kohli and Johnson often exchanged sharp words on the field (AP Photo)But things have since changed.Early in 2018, Steve Smith and David Warner along with young Cameron Bancroft were banned over their roles in the ball-tampering scandal. A culture review followed and Australian cricket deemed it was time to change.Tim Paine now has a routine – he wants to shake hands with the opposition before the series gets underway. His men are encouraged to play with a smile and respect the opposition. A few former Aussie players are aghast – focus on winning games, they say. What good will respect do.But Paine and coach Langer are convinced. Earning the respect of the fans is as important as winning the series against India.The two captains with the Border-Gavaskar Trophy at the Adelaide Oval #TeamIndia #AUSvIND pic.twitter.com/k0av3MzcnJBCCI (@BCCI) December 5, 2018Smith and Warner had got away with one-Test bans from the ICC – indeed, the maximum punishment for ball-tampering. Cricket Australia imposed one-year bans on their two most consistent batsmen (and a nine-month ban on Bancroft, an up and coming opener). The Australian public want to see good, hard cricket without the often silly sledging games that make professional cricketers look like spoilt kids.Kohli has promised to not cross the line but he also said he would retaliate if the Australians did not behave themselves. Paine and Langer are convinced their new way of playing the game is the right way. Will an Australian cricketer really stand up and needle Kohli? Will Mitchell Starc or Pat Cummins or Nathan Lyon try to get under the skin of India’s captain?How will Australian crowds look at the first hint of unprovoked aggression from India?Or will both teams play the game in the right spirit and focus only on their skills to win the next four Tests. It will be a riveting contest, that’s for sure.An Indian team going into a Test series in Australia as favourites. An Australian team determined to let their talent do the talking on the field.This promises to be a series like no other between two explosive sides.Also Read | India openers are going to be more decisive vs Australia than Virat Kohli: Sunil GavaskarAlso Read | A bit of banter not harmful but we won’t cross the line: Virat KohliAlso Read | Will Australia sledge Virat Kohli? Josh Hazlewood and Tim Paine weigh inAlso Read | Virat Kohli’s Adelaide memories: 3 hundreds and 2 heartbreaking defeatslast_img

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