Perth: It's hard to tell when Mahendra Singh Dhoni is joking. There are times when his jokes are filled with seriousness - if you read between the lines. On Monday afternoon, Ishant Sharma joined Virat Kohli as the second Indian cricketer to flip the middle finger to hecklers on the ongoing tour of Australia.
It is understood that Ishant was reacting to taunts from fans at a sundown go-kart session attended by most of the players (except Rahul Dravid, Virender Sehwag, VVS Laxman and Zaheer Khan) at Belmont on Monday evening.
The West Australian newspaper reported that Ishant was greeted by a fan who said: "Why don't you go learn how to bat and bowl before you go go-karting. It will be three-nil mate." The fast bowler responded with a one-finger salute as he turned his back to get back on the bus.
His gesture was captured by a local photographer. It justifiably made front-page news in Australia yesterday. The Courier Mail carried the headline 'Birdy Hell' -- suggesting that flipping the finger had become the theme of the summer.
Ishant's act comes less than a week after Delhi teammate Kohli was fined half his match fee for the same gesture during the Sydney Test. "I have taped the fingers of both (Virat and Ishant) of them. Now, they won't be able lift them. It'll be interesting to see if they can repeat what they did," Dhoni joked during a casual chat with MiD DAY after his team's training session here at Western Australia Cricket Association Ground (WACA).
Look, the king of WACA is here
Rahul Dravid and Justin Langer are good mates. They are cut from the same cloth. They are not gifted strokeplayers, and have worked very hard for their 13,206 and 7,696 runs respectively. Langer, now Australia's batting coach, deserves credit for Ricky Ponting's return to form. On the eve of the first Test at Melbourne, Langer hit the indoor nets at 8:30 in the morning on Christmas Day to help former teammate Ponting. His devotion has drawn huge admiration from local journalists.
When Dravid was leaving his dressing room for the team bus, he greeted Langer. "Look who's here ¦it's the king of WACA," Dravid told the Western Australian batting great. "(Laughs)...No, mate...that would be disrespecting some of the other batsmen," he replied. After a pause, he asked: "Why would you call me that, Rahul?" Dravid replied, "You are just being modest," before walking away. There is so much mutual respect among these two and it was evident once again yesterday.
Later, Langer spent an hour with new opener Ed Cowan. Langer scored 711 runs from 10 Tests at his home ground -- with two centuries. However, he did not never featured in a Perth Test against India as Australia never hosted India at the WACA ground between 1980-81 and 2007-08. Among all Western Australian batsmen (who played Shield cricket for WA) to have played Test cricket for Australia, Langer leads the pack, closely followed by Adam Gilchrist (603), Michael Hussey (588) and Kim Hughes (426).