India v Australia, 1st Test, Mohali, 1st day

Teams play down Ponting-Zaheer spat

Sidharth Monga in Mohali

October 1, 2010

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Ricky Ponting exchanges words with India's fielders after his dismissal, India v Australia, 1st Test, Mohali, 1st day, October 1, 2010
Ricky Ponting and Zaheer Khan [unseen] exchanged words but the teams played down the incident © AFP
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A day after Ricky Ponting called for a controversy-free tour, he was ironically involved in the first real incident of the series. After he was run out by a superb direct hit from Suresh Raina, Ponting was seen exchanging words and gestures with Zaheer Khan. Ponting was walking off, and it seemed Zaheer had something to say to him from the team huddle. Ponting turned back and was seen pointing his bat towards Zaheer.

Both sides, though, played down the incident, and no charges had been pressed last checked. "When two top teams are playing, you expect some competition and that's what it was," Pragyan Ojha said after a tough old-fashioned day of Test cricket. "When you play hard, you obviously exchange some words. Nothing more than that."

Watson sought to play with the similar straight bat as was the hallmark of his unbeaten, restrained century, but cheekily opened the face at the last moment. "The umpires didn't get involved, did they?" he said. "Wasn't too bad. Something that does happen on a cricket field when people are competitive. As you did see, on the footage - everyone really knows how Ricky is, he is not going to go looking for a fight unless someone steps out of the line, out of the huddle, and has a bit to say. It was there for all to see."

The good thing, though, is that neither team seems to be bothering too much about it. And in what was a welcome sight, at stumps, the Indian players, including Zaheer and Harbhajan Singh, almost queued up to congratulate Watson on his effort. All's well that ends well. At least until the next incident.

Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at Cricinfo

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