New Delhi: As Sachin fans wait expectantly for his ton of tons in Sydney, a section of the Australian media has dug up an old episode. Mind games?
Referring to the 'Monkeygate Scandal'of 2008, The Daily Telegraph has left Tendulkar fans fuming after it said that the Sydney venue is where his "deepest shame" was born. "The stage may be set at the SCG for Sachin Tendulkar's finest hour but it is also the venue where his deepest shame was born," the article says.
The writer Malcolm Conn says: "Some recent Australian players have not forgiven his role in the Andrew Symonds "Monkeygate" scandal...Some Australians lost respect for him when he gave completely different accounts of what took place as a key witness in the Harbhajan Singh-Andrew Symonds racism meltdown."
Bhajji was suspended for three matches after the second Test in Sydney but the penalty was reduced to a fine after a hearing proved that though the Indian off-spinner abused the Australian all-rounder, it did not have a racial connotation.
Adam Gilchrist, who was Australia's wicketkeeper in the series, had called that episode a 'joke' in his autobiography 'True Colors'.
"Tendulkar, who'd said at the first hearing that he hadn't been able to hear what Harbhajan had said - and he was a fair way away, up the other end, so I'm certain he was telling the truth - now supported Harbhajan's version that he hadn't called Symo a 'monkey' but instead a Hindi term of abuse that might sound like 'monkey' to Australian ears," Gilchrist said.
"The Indians got him off the hook when they, of all people, should have been treating the matter of racial vilification with the utmost seriousness," he added.
The 2008 Sydney Test was marred with various controversies, from umpiring errors to false appeals to verbal spats, but that was four years ago and since then much has changed in both teams.
Australian captain Michael Clarke and India skipper MS Dhoni have made it clear that they will not encourage any ugly incident and are committed to controversy-free series. They both gave credited IPL for defusing tensions between the two teams.
"The IPL has helped reduce tension between the two teams, and irrespective of what happened in the past, our relationship with Indian players is stronger than ever before," Clarke had said in his column for the same newspaper a week back.
Dhoni also reiterated the sentiments on Monday. "As far as the last Sydney Test is concerned, both sides have moved on. The behavior of players from both sides has improved especially with IPL coming in. And we know a bit more about them so that helps," Dhoni said.
It must also be noticed that there is no Harbhajan Singh or Andrew Symonds this time. The two cricketers have already buried the hatchets and are friends now, thanks to their IPL commitments to Mumbai Indians, which is led by Tendulkar. It is no secret anymore that the master batsman played a crucial role in ending the feud.
Sachin, who has scored 148*, 45, 4, 241*, 60*, 154* and 12 in the last four Sydney Tests, is just a hundred away from his hundredth international ton and looked in good touch in the first Test at Melbourne where he scored 73 and 32 runs.