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One-day internationals (7): India 2, Australia 4
Twenty20 international (1): India 1, Australia 0
Had it not been for the race row in which Andrew Symonds unwittingly found himself, Australia's short tour of India would have slipped under the radar largely unnoticed. On the field it was a familiar story: Australia, too good for their opponents over seven matches, were more comfortable winners than the 4-2 margin suggests.
The series would have gone down as Symonds's in any case, for he could barely put a foot wrong, at least while there was something to play for. He scored the most runs by some margin, averaged comfortably more than anyone else, and scored at a strike-rate of 110. Through it all, his off-spin came in more than handy and his fielding was boisterously electric. Comparisons with Sir Viv Richards flew rather easily, and for once they could not be brushed off as over the top.
The tone for the series was set early on, with Australia's top order struggling to make solid starts. But just when the Indians thought they were in with a chance, the middle order settled in to take Australia towards 300. Excepting the final match Australia never put less than 290 on the board batting first, which prolonged a ten-year streak of India failing to chase successfully against the world champions. At Mumbai, at last, they did it. The first half of the series was marred by ugly exchanges on the field, with the Indians - particularly the young players who had tasted success in the World Twenty20 - doing their best to match the Australians in the sledging department. The talk counted for little, and Chris Broad, the referee, stepped in pretty quickly to quieten things down.
It was when the Australians came to Vadodara leading 2-1 that Symonds's trouble with the crowds began. Although it went over the heads of most of the players, the match officials and much of the media, Symonds was subjected to monkey chants from sections of the crowd as Australia sauntered to a nine-wicket win. While this rowdiness reinforced what was already known - that Indian crowds behave badly when their team is taking a hiding, and cannot appreciate the performances of anyone not in an India shirt - it also revealed a more sinister side.
Once the series had been decided, attention shifted to the spectators, and Mumbai did not disappoint. Despite repeated pleas from the authorities, some of the crowd booed Symonds, and again made monkey noises and gestures: they were caught on camera and thrown out of the ground. It left a bitter taste in the mouth - and, even as India racked up a consolatory win in the solitary Twenty20 game that followed, crowds were chanting "Symonds is a donkey." Racist? Tough to say, but certainly not what you want to hear on a cricket ground. Overall it was an omen of events in Australia.
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