Mohali:Graceful as ever, India captain Anil Kumble on Wednesday urged all to shun on-field banters and focus on cricket, while his Australian conterpart Ricky Ponting whined like a school child that it was the hosts who had triggered this war of words in the ongoing Test series.
Kumble was asked about the Australians' penchant for mindgames ahead and during any series, to which the veteran leg-spinner responded with a simple urge.
"Let's concentrate on cricket... Lots of things get spoken about cricket but at the end of the day it's just a sport to be played," Kumble said it short and crisp.
Even during India's tumultous tour of Australia last summer, Kumble never lost his cool and assumed a statesman-like stature with his mature handling of the whirlwind Down Under.
Incidents preceding, during and following the Sydney racism row would have infuriated any lesser mortal but all Kumble had to say about the espisode was that of the two teams in the middle, only one was playing in the true spirit of the game.
Even in this series, Ponting and his team are leaving no stone unturned in their mindgames. The first Test has already seen Brad Haddin successfully provoking Zaheer Khan and Ponting has also volunteered with his unwarranted criticism of Kumble's captaincy in the Australian media and still he went on to claim that the hosts were to be blamed for initiating the verbal war.
Asked if they were taking Steve Waugh's 'mental disintegration' to a new level, Ponting said, "No, I don't think so. I'm not sure what word you are talking about but the truth is India has started this war of words and they are speaking more than us.
"We've been focussing on doing what we can to give ourselves the best chance of winning here. We have started the series well and we are focussing on that and trying to improve our game.
"We are not focussing on what's in the newspapers, that's not what cricket is about. Cricket is about executing skills under pressure in big match or games and we are doing just that," Ponting said.
Both Haddin and Zaheer narrowly escaped Match Referee's censure in Bangalore but Australian spearhead Brett Lee didn't see anything grossly wrong in the spat and in fact welcomed 'controlled aggression'.
"I think the first Test was definitely played in the right spirit," Lee said on Tuesday.
"There was lot of passion and controlled aggression in the first Test. A few words were exchanged indeed but that was well within the right spirit. You cannot take away the passion, after all we are not playing tiddlywinks," the pacer argued.