Ricky Ponting has admitted some of the verbal clashes between Australia and India did not look good in Delhi, and he has come up with a way of restricting India's bid to reclaim the Border-Gavaskar Trophy in Thursday's final match of the series in Nagpur. Gautam Gambhir's elbow of Shane Watson on the first day earned him a one-match ban, which he is appealing, and was the first in a series of emotional exchanges.
The part-time spinner Simon Katich also argued heatedly with Gambhir, who scored 206 and 36, late on the first day and the pair needed to be separated by the umpires. The officials were also involved when Mitchell Johnson managed to irk the usually unflappable VVS Laxman on Sunday as the third Test headed towards a draw.
"There was no real malice from anything Mitchell had to say," Ponting said. "It was about some of the comments that VVS had made in the newspapers, to tell the truth. That was all he was talking about. The umpires spoke to me and said it happened three times in the over, I think, and it wasn't acceptable. So I spoke to Mitchell at the break and that was it."
After making a double-century on the second day, Laxman said the overall approach of Australia was defensive, a claim first made by Zaheer Khan in Bangalore. "It's interesting that they say those things when they've got 400 on the board," Ponting said. "They had a chance to set up a game [on day five] and chose not to. So who do you call defensive? It's easier to say those things when you're in front, but I didn't see them saying too much in Bangalore."
Australia felt they were the only side trying to win on the last day of the third Test, but their below-par bowling unit was unable to make the required breakthroughs and India declared twice in the match. Ponting wants to fix that situation in Nagpur and will consider changes to his attack. If the team is successful he expects it will keep India quiet.
"What we have ahead of us is to not give them the chance to say those things," he said. "We need to start the game well, and play cricket that's not going to allow them to say that." Ponting did not reveal what it would take to keep Australia quiet.
He said the Katich-Gambhir argument on the first day was "just a little bit of a tangle". "'Pup' [Michael Clarke] went in, I went in, the umpires went in, and sorted it out there and then and there was nothing else between those guys for the rest of the game," Ponting said. "Some of those things don't look very good from the sidelines and us as players need to understand they can look worse from the sidelines than they might be on the field."
Despite the regular incidents, Ponting said they were not a result of Australia's frustration at the inability to break through India. "I'd like to think those things aren't getting to us on the field," he said. "We've got a pretty clear job to do.
"If we're struggling to take wickets then that sort of stuff's never going to help you. You've got to try to work out ways and set up plans to get batsmen out. The stuff that's happened I don't think has anything to do with that."
The Australians also felt there were a few judicial inconsistencies in the contest. "There have been a couple of other things that have come up in the game that have been a little bit strange as well as far as outcomes go," he said.
Gambhir appealed his suspension for elbowing Watson despite pleading guilty to a second serious offence in a year. Watson was fined 10% for his part in the confrontation when it was ruled his verbals had provoked Gambhir's reaction.
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