Michael Clarke caused some controversy on Tuesday by saying that cricketers around the world stopped sledging India because they did not want to risk antagonizing Indians and their chances of being part of the IPL. He said, “I feel that Australian cricket, and probably every other team over a little period, went the opposite and actually sucked up to India…The players were like: ‘I’m not going to sledge Kohli, I want him to pick me for Bangalore so I can make my USD 1 million for my six weeks’.”
Michael Clarke’s most famous brush with sledging Indians was in 2004, when he tried to sledge Sachin Tendulkar as an ‘oldie’, only to be told off by Virender Sehwag. “Your friends call you ‘pup’, right? Which breed?” – Sehwag said, as the matter ended there.
Clarke’s own IPL career did not end on the most auspicious note, with then IPL chairman Lalit Modi saying Clarke ‘chickened out’ of the IPL 2009 season because he feared he would go unsold in the auctions and he was unwilling to lower his base price.
We take a look at a few famous incidents when opposition players were made to regret sledging Indians, not because of IPL contracts but because of what followed on the cricket field.
Kohli makes Faulkner regret bowling dot balls
One of the subplots of the 2016 ODI series between India and Australia was the duel between Virat Kohli and James Faulkner. During the 3rd ODI at the MCG, while Kohli was batting, Faulkner managed to bowl four consecutive dot balls. Thinking he would get under Kohli’s skin, Faulkner started taunting him, appearing to say, ‘You tried to smash me there but you failed’. Kohli ignored Faulkner for a while, but as the Australian continued to talk to him, he was heard on the stump mic – ‘I’ve smashed you enough in my life. Don’t waste your time, go bowl.”
The verbal duel ended there, but Kohli made Faulkner regret it several times later. The very next over, Kohli smashed 12 runs, including a huge six over mid-on, almost as if to prove a point. In the next match, in Canberra, Kohli smashed 29 runs from the 16 balls he faced off Faulkner. Kohli would go on to score two centuries in the five-match series.
Prasad starts a Pakistan meltdown in World Cup quarterfinal
One of the most memorable moments in India vs Pakistan cricket matches. The one moment in his career Venkatesh Prasad is asked about the most. The 1996 World Cup quarterfinal, with the arch-rivals facing off, produced a defining ‘brainfade moment’ from Pakistan captain Aamer Sohail. “When I went inside the dressing room, I saw those shoulders drop,” Sohail would say years later on the moment when the match changed.
Sohail, having just reached his half-century, danced down the track to Prasad and cut fiercely for four to the left of sweeper-cover. He then walked up to Prasad and pointed his bat where he had just hit it, in an apparent challenge to stop him from doing so again. Sohail stepped away to play an expansive cut off the next ball too but Prasad’s delivery had an extra zip to it this time, and it crashed into the stumps before the bat could come down. Pandemonium followed as the Chinnaswamy crowd – which had seen Sohail’s gesture on the giant screen – went wild and Prasad gesticulated towards Sohail to walk off.
Sohail said in a 2018 interview, “When Venky started his second spell, he was… troubling everybody. And I said okay, how can I break his focus? Javed (Miandad) had actually taught us this. Over the years, when a bowler is troubling you, thoda sa uska focus todo (break his focus a bit). But for India, it’s good that Venky didn’t lose track. He kept on focusing. I was actually expecting a bouncer. I was ready to hit it.”
Sreesanth’s dance to remember
Sparks flew in Johannesburg when Sreesanth and Andre Nel – two of the most effervescent cricketers of this century – clashed against each other. Both in the early days of their career then, both were at their aggressive best.
When Sreesanth came out to bat, Nel told him, “I can smell blood. You do not have the guts.’ Showing his emblem on the shirt, Nel said, “I am playing for this. You are a scared fellow, rabbit. I will get you next ball.” Speaking about the incident after the match, Sreesanth said he also noticed Nel told wicketkeeper Mark Boucher to stay back and that the fielder at short leg was moved.
Sreesanth, knowing Nel would be aiming for a short ball, met the next delivery with an almighty heave, which flew to the long off boundary for a six. If a tailender smashing a furious pacer for a six was not enough entertainment, Sreesanth followed this up by breaking into a full-bloodied jig at the non-striker’s end, gyrating his hips at Nel, who had nothing to do but to walk back. India eventually won the Test by 123 runs after bundling out the hosts for 84, with Sreesanth bagging eight scalps in the match.
Yuvraj Singh makes Broad pay for Flintoff’s words
There was something about Andrew Flintoff bringing out the aggressive best in Indians – be it Sourav Ganguly paying him back in his coin by waving his shirt from the Lord’s balcony, or be it Yuvraj Singh making Stuart Broad a part of statistical history because he was irked by Flintoff.
During the World T20 match in 2007 between India and England, Flintoff said he would ‘cut (Yuvraj’s) throat off’ after two boundaries were hit in his over by the southpaw. Yuvraj replied to this verbally by saying he would hit Flintoff with his bat, but had something more to add as well. When Stuart Broad came in to bowl the next over, Yuvraj did the unimaginable, which has since then been one of the most frequently played highlights reel when it comes to Indian cricket – hitting six consecutive sixes in the over.
Sachin makes a mark as 16-year-old
Pakistan spin legend Abdul Qadir had a fond story of how a 16-year-old Sachin Tendulkar took him on after he challenged the young Indian batsman in an exhibition match in the 1980s.
“This is not a one-day international match so you should try and hit me for a six in the next over. And if you succeed you will become a star”. He didn’t say anything to me but the next over he hit me for three sixes,” Qadir said in 2018.
With 70 more runs to win from five overs, Tendulkar went after the experienced leggie, hitting him for four sixes in an over, coming down the track, hitting with the spin, against the spin and down the ground. The young Tendulkar could not get India over the line but remained unbeaten with an 18-ball 53.