Recalling the infamous Monkeygate incident during India’s 2007-08 tour to Australia, former captain Anil Kumble said on Saturday that he and other Indian players believed that Harbhajan Singh was wronged.
An on-field fiasco between Harbhajan and Andrew Symonds in the Sydney Test had grabbed headlines for all the wrong reasons. Both the players had faced sanctions after the case was dragged to the court. However, the Indian spinner had faced a more severe punishment as compared to the Australian all-rounder.
The controversies ended up overshadowing what was otherwise a high-quality match featuring as many as five centuries, including an unbeaten 162 from Symonds.
Australia dramatically won the game by 122 runs with minutes to spare on the final day. Other than the defeat and Harbhajan’s punishment, poor umpiring decisions had also led the Indian team down.
“As a captain you’re generally tuned to take decisions on the field. Here I was faced with something, which was off the field, to take a decision in the larger interest of the game,” Kumble told Ravichandran Ashwin during latter’s YouTube show ‘DRSWithAsh’.
“And one of our players (Harbhajan Singh) was obviously banned for three matches because of a racist remark – that was what the pronouncement was and we appealed. I felt he was wronged.
“We had to obviously be together as a team but the challenge was that there was a lot of talk about the team wanting to come back at that point in time, and leave the tour and come back.
“Yes, you know, probably (people) would have accepted that the Indian team was wronged and that’s why they came back,” he added.
At the time, there was clamour within certain sections that Team India should abandon the tour mid-way and return to India. Kumble, however, stated that senior players did well to keep the team together during those tough times and that helped them achieve positive results in the final two matches of the series.
“I think as a captain, or as a team, we had gone there to win the series. Unfortunately, with the first two results not going our way, the best result could have been a drawn series because two more Test matches remained and I just wanted to rally around the team. I was fortunate enough to have senior players, former captains, in the team,” he added.
Following losses in first two Tests, India did well to make a comeback in the third match in Perth and won it by 72 runs. The fourth and final Test ended in a draw as Australia clinched the series 2-1.
With IANS inputs