Harbhajan can’t cop it, says Ponting
Captain Ricky Ponting has escalated the ill feeling between the Australian and Indian camps by questioning the courage of volatile spinner Harbhajan Singh.
Ponting was more than happy to take a few shots at the home side before his expected return in Friday’s third match of the seven-game series in Hyderabad.
He accused Singh of being able to dish out the verbal abuse but not take it in return after the off-spinner accused the Australians of being vulgar and bad losers.
“I don’t really care what he has to say to tell you the truth,” Ponting said of Harbhajan.
“He has plenty to say on the field and then when ever someone says something back to him he is the first one to run away from it.”
“I don’t care too much about what they say.
“We play our cricket in a nice aggressive way and we play within the rules and within the spirit of the game.”
The exchange has ramped up the considerable tension between the sides that surfaced in Tuesday’s fiery clash in the southern seaside city of Cochin.
“They are ones that have come out and made all the statements since we have been here,” he said.
“We have not come out and they have made statements nearly every day about this new India and this new aggressive outlook they are going to play with.”
The Australians have had a testy relationship with Harbhajan ever since his stunning performance in India’s 2-1 win in their memorable home three-Test series in 2001.
The Turbanator has never masked his feelings towards the Australians on the field and that continued when he had a slanging match with the tourists at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium.
After being stumped off Michael Clarke’s bowling, Harbhajan stopped mid-pitch to have crack at the Australians for their banter on the field.
Umpire Steve Bucknor eventually dragged him away from the scene.
Some of the comments from both camps during this series, particularly from firebrand Shantha Sreesanth, have sounded more like a boxing promotion than for a cricket series.
Buoyed by their triumph at last month’s Twenty20 world championships in South Africa, the Indians have talked up their new aggressive approach they believed would assist them in taking down the reigning World Cup holders.
Ponting suggested that India’s aggression was all just a front and that it wasn’t working against his men.
“We know that is not the way they generally play their cricket, so they are trying to put on some sort of brave face and brave front,” he said.
“So far we have played some great cricket and I look forward to us playing some better cricket as the tournament goes on.”
The skipper, who missed the opening two games through injury, felt the Australians had worked hard to improve their on-field behaviour in recent times and that it was tame compared to Sreesanth and Harbhajan.
“Perception is an amazing thing in this world,” he said.
“If we were ever as bad as people have said you would have seen a lot more Australians being reported, especially in the last couple of years.
“Not many, if any, have been for sledging over the last couple of years, if at all.
“I don’t really know what happened too much the other day but if you look at his (Harbhajan’s) record and Sreesanth’s record over the last few years and they have been involved in a lot of those altercations.”