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Kumble questions Australia's spirit

Anil Kumble has accused Australia of not playing in the spirit of the game in a heated finish to a Test that continued the ill-feeling between the teams

Ricky Ponting reacted angrily when questions were raised over his appeal for a catch while fielding in close, when replays seemed to show it touching the grass when he landed © Getty Images
Anil Kumble has accused Australia of not playing in the spirit of the game in a heated finish to a Test that continued the ill-feeling between the teams. After a match filled with controversy it was revealed the BCCI would request Steve Bucknor, the "incompetent" official, be replaced for the third Test in Perth while Kumble will review the pre-series catching agreement he had with Ricky Ponting, who aggressively defended his integrity.
"Only one team was playing with the spirit of the game, that's all I can say," Kumble said after a day that included a horrible decision for Rahul Dravid and a claimed low, slip catch by Michael Clarke against Sourav Ganguly. The dismissal was sealed when Ponting told the umpire Mark Benson it was out, although television replays were, as usual, not conclusive.
"We'd like to play hard on the field and expect that from Australia as well," Kumble said. "I've played my cricket very sincerely and honestly, that's the approach my team takes, and we expect that from Australia as well. Sometimes it happens that in the heat of the moment you take those chances and then probably don't say anything on that. It's a part of the game."
Australia's sprint to victory with seven balls to spare was also overshadowed by the charges of racism tabled against Harbhajan Singh, a complaint which was raised on the field by Ponting, and an India team official was angry at the treatment towards the side during the 122-run defeat. India suffered heavily due to the poor umpiring and Chetan Chauhan, the India manager, believed they would not have lost if they had received 50% of the contentious calls.
"The way the umpiring was, the team is agitated and upset," he said. "A lot of decisions have gone against us. Of course a few went against the Australians also."
The crucial rulings involved Bucknor and Andrew Symonds, who was given not-out to a loud edge when he was 31 - he made 162 - and today he dismissed Dravid caught-behind when the ball flicked the batsman's pad. "Had some of the decisions, I would say 50% of them, were received in our favour, the result would have been different," Chauhan said. "It really affected us. We're not saying this because we have lost the game. It was for everybody to see."
Bucknor and Mark Benson both had matches to forget and Bucknor is due to stand in Perth from January 16. However, Chauhan said the BCCI was lodging "a strong protest" with the ICC "so that some of the incompetent umpires do not umpire in the rest of the series".
The Indians were not the only ones fuming. Ponting reacted angrily when asked about his appeal for a catch against Mahendra Singh Dhoni that was ruled not out because the batsman did not hit it. The ball ballooned away from Ponting at silly point and he dived to make an athletic take, which sparked loud appeals, but replays seemed to show it touching the grass.
"There's no way I grounded that ball. If you're actually questioning my integrity in the game, then you shouldn't be standing there," Ponting told an Indian journalist. "What I did in the first innings, doesn't that explain the way I play the game?" Ponting told the umpires he had not accepted an edge cleanly despite the appeals from the players around him.
"I'm saying I'm 100% sure I would have caught that catch off Dhoni," Ponting said. "As it turned out it was given not out anyway, am I right or wrong?"
Adam Gilchrist also took aim at criticism of Australia's delay in closing their second innings today, shouting "How about that declaration, Tony Greig" while Ponting was conducting a radio interview. The Indian media also made an official complaint to the BCCI about what a journalist called the "humiliating" treatment from Ponting during an abbreviated press conference before he attended the hearing involving Harbhajan.
Ponting believed there was nothing wrong with Australia's on-field conduct during the match. "I have absolutely no doubt about this match being played in the right spirit," he said. "There's been one little issue that's come out of the game, otherwise the spirit between both teams in both Tests has been excellent." In Sydney Kumble and India disagreed.

Peter English is the Australasia editor of Cricinfo