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India Tour of Australia: From Smiles and Camaraderie to Underlying Tension and Controversies

The camaraderie and lack of 'rivalry' was so much that ex players even called for something to be done to up the intensity

India Tour of Australia: From Smiles and Camaraderie to Underlying Tension and Controversies

It all began well for India and Australia at the start of the tour three months ago. Both teams were at their most friendly avatar, with smiles and 'lovely' moments being the highlight of the white-ball leg of the tour. The camaraderie between the players, fresh off the IPL, was telling. Even amid tough battles, there were some moments that brought smiles to everyone.

Example: the KL Rahul - Aaron Finch 'belly rub'.

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And soon after, ahead of the Test series, there was Mohammed Siraj winning hearts after running to Cameron Green as soon as he was hit on the head in a warm up game.

The camaraderie and lack of 'rivalry' was so much that ex players even called for something to be done to up the intensity! Here's what Zaheer Khan wanted India to do to find the fight within them.

"Knowing the coach Ravi Shastri, he should take a leaf out of old school cricket and maybe remind Smith and Warner about what has happened a couple of years back (sandpapergate),” Zaheer Khan said on Cricbuzz Live.

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"At times when things aren’t going your way you just have to find something to bring out that intensity.

"They have to pick that fight maybe. Not in a bad way — staying in the boundaries and bringing out that intensity at times. Forget about what is going your way, what’s not and just get in the zone, which really helps bring out the best in you.

"Ravi has been good at it so I think that’s something he should definitely ponder because it’s going to be a long tour... they should try everything and anything possible."

The first two Tests went without much incident, extending the pattern. The battle was tough on field - Australia winning Adelaide before India bouncing back in style in Melbourne.

But ahead of and during the third Test in Sydney, things took a downhill turn. With news emerging that Brisbane Test was in doubt after Indians complained about quarantine restrictions, equations changed. While the players largely stayed friendly, the noise outside began to grow.

Australia captain Tim Paine hinted that their team was ready to play anywhere, while suggesting BCCI could ultimately have their way.

"No inside frustration but a bit of uncertainty because when you hear things like that coming particularly from India, which holds a lot of power in world cricket, its likely that it could happen.

"For us, we just want to be clear on this Test match, we know the protocols and we know what’s expected of us, we will focus on that this week and then whatever happens next week happens and we will adapt to it.

"We are not too fussed as to where the Test is being played and we couldn’t care less if you rang up and said that it’s in Mumbai. We will get onto a plan and we will go and play."

Ricky Ponting, meanwhile, wondered why India didn't complain during the IPL.

"It looks like they are trying to find an excuse not to go to Brisbane," he said. "You have signed up for the tour to play the Test matches. It's not ideal for anyone, or the Australians, if they go to Brisbane (to be) locked down in a hotel.

"The Australians have actually been in a bubble longer than the Indians have. We didn't hear anything about these Indian players worrying about quarantines or lockdowns in the middle of the IPL, did we?"

And the equation on the field changed in the final session of the Test too, with India battling for a draw while Australia were getting desperate pushing for a win. Paine, who had before the match welcomed the friendly nature of the series, was in the centre of the storm trying to sledge R Ashwin.

And then the big noise around this one, involving Steve Smith.

Whether Smith intended to remove Pant's mark or not is only something known to him. He has come out and defended himself, but it's unlikely that Indian fans will view him too differently.

And amid all that, there was further confusion and drama with India not too pleased with the facilities in their hotel in Brisbane. And once again, the noise off the field only grew, including from Alyssa Healy, Australia cricketer and wife of Mitchell Starc.

But despite all this, the matches have largely been played in right spirit. Tim Paine even apologised for his behaviour after the third Test. David Warner too won hearts, apologising to Mohammed Siraj who was racially abused during the third Test. Let's hope the current version of the rivalry ends on a right note.

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1 New Zealand 3198 118
2 Australia 3028 116
3 India 3085 114
4 England 4326 106
5 South Africa 2499 96
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2 India 6102 117
3 New Zealand 3716 116
4 Australia 4344 111
5 South Africa 3345 108
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2 Australia 6800 272
3 India 10186 268
4 Pakistan 7516 259
5 South Africa 5047 252
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