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Ricky Ponting and Harbhajan Singh have quite a history. Ponting's struggles against Harbhajan's offspin in the noughties aside, there has been plenty of verbal back and forth between the two over the years. When Australia toured India in late 2007 for a limited-overs series, Ponting had taken a dig at Harbhajan's on-field comments saying: "Good luck to him. I don't care what he has got to say, to tell you the truth. He has got plenty to say on the field, but whenever anyone says something back to him he is the first to run away from it." Harbhajan returned the compliment after India's triumph in the 2008-09 Test series, saying: "Ponting had a lot to say about our players and about the way we play our cricket. In fact, it is Ponting who first needs to go and learn to bat against spin bowling. I can get Ponting out any time, I think I can get him even after I come post a six-month lay-off." In between came the intense, controversy-ridden 2007-08 Test series in Australia, in which the racial row overshadowed most of the cricket.
Fastforward to April 2013. It's the Indian Premier League. It's Mumbai Indians beginning their defence of 209 against Delhi Daredevils. Unmukt Chand reaches out first ball, gets a leading edge. The fielder at extra cover runs to his right to claim the chance, stumbles a bit, still manages to dive, sticks his right hand out and grabs hold of the ball while still mid-air. He picks himself up and stands with arms spread out, while the bowler rushes to embrace him. The fielder is Ponting, the bowler, Harbhajan.
After Mumbai completed a crushing win, Ponting joked in a TV interview that that hug had "taken a few years" to materialise. In IPL seasons past, we had seen the main protagonists of the Sydney Test controversy, Harbhajan and Andrew Symonds, similarly embracing in Mumbai Indians' garb. This year we've seen Ponting, Kumble and Tendulkar - the supporting cast in Sydney - amicably discussing strategy on the sidelines. That's the IPL for you. Or maybe it's just Mumbai Indians.
Nikita Bastian is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfoFeeds: Nikita Bastian
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