Australia in India 2008-09 November 11, 2008

'I don't regret the Watson episode' - Gambhir

Cricinfo staff

Top Curve
Sydney Test the inspiration?
  • Harbhajan Singh, the Indian offspinner, felt the team was keen to beat Australia after the incidents during the Sydney Test. Harbhajan was accused of racially abusing Andrew Symonds, a charge that was eventually rejected on appeal after he was found guilty by match referee Mike Procter.
  • "I think the events in the Sydney Test match really hurt all of us," Harbhajan said. "The things they accused me of and their overall approach irked us as a team. I can safely say the events in the Sydney Test inspired this win."
Bottom Curve

Gautam Gambhir, the Indian opener, says he does not regret elbowing Shane Watson, an action that earned him a one-Test ban. Gambhir, who missed the final Test of the series India won 2-0, also felt "sledging should be stopped" if the authorities felt what he did was wrong.

"No gentleman can hear things that Aussies were saying in Delhi. If what I did was wrong, then even sledging should be stopped, it has no place in the game," he said. "Aussies sledge from all corners, they sledged at me in Bangalore, Mohali and then in Delhi. I could have taken [their sledging] only to a point but they tend to get personal which is just not on.

"I agree that I shouldn't have crossed a certain line but people should take the holistic view rather than blaming just me for the episode," he said. "Frankly, I don't regret the Watson episode."

Gambhir was banned for one Test by match referee Chris Broad after he nudged Watson with his elbow while taking a run on the first day of the third Test in Delhi. He had arguments with the bowler prior to the incident and later even got involved in a confrontation with Simon Katich after the bowler appeared to have stopped him from taking a run. Gambhir pleaded guilty to the ban, but appealed against the match referee's decision, an appeal rejected by ICC commissioner Albie Sachs. Watson was fined 10% of match fee.

"They don't like it when the opposition reacts the way we did. The Australians never thought we would come hard at them, that's why they reacted the way they did." Gambhir said he was unlikely to change the manner in which he approaches the Australians. "I like to be aggressive, I am a fighter who plays for his team, his country and will do everything to restore that pride and never you'd see me taking a backward step."

Despite sitting out the Nagpur Test, Gambhir still emerged the leading run-getter in the series, with two centuries boosting his tally to 463. However, he lost out on the Man-of-the-Series prize to fast bowler Ishant Sharma. "I have never been that lucky, maybe I need to get 400! I'd be lying if I said it didn't hurt. I take comfort in the fact that the team won the series and I am really happy for Ishant, who bowled his heart out."

Before the Mohali Test against Australia, where he scored his second Test hundred, Gambhir had been failing to convert half-centuries into big scores. "Frankly, it doesn't really bother me what critics say as long as I help my team and my country win series after series and tournament after tournament," Gambhir said. "VVS Laxman told me in Sri Lanka that my biggest challenge would be playing against Australia and I needed to pass that test. I met him in Nagpur and asked him if did clear that test, he told me, 'You have not only passed the test but passed it with a distinction.' I don't think I need any more approval from anyone."