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Once among the fiercest in world cricket, the Australia-India rivalry is being called “too friendly” after the first two matches of the summer.
The first two ODIs were indeed light-years away from the intensity of previous India visits, such as 2014-15 when Virat Kohli and Mitchell Johnson went at it hammer and tongs.
The current friendliness was highlighted on Sunday when Aaron Finch was struck in the stomach by a full toss and KL Rahul ran over to rub his belly, which the Australian captain laughed off.
“This series is too friendly,” Kerry O’Keeffe joked on Fox Cricket at the time. “We need an incident. Everybody is smiling, come on!”
As lighthearted as his comments were, the 2020-21 summer is indeed off to a wholesome start with no noticeable flare ups yet.
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Finch cops brutal full toss
Michael Vaughan doesn’t want to see internationals become too friendly, but said after the second ODI that it’s a by-product of T20 franchise cricket.
“I just think we’re in a different era of the game,” he said on Cricbuzz Live.
“You only have to go back 10, 15, 20 years, the Australians were pretty much in everyone’s faces with words and body language. I don’t think they went over the top, I just think it was the way they used to play the game.
“Whereas now, the players are generally teammates. Most of the Australian team are teammates with the Indian players through the IPL franchises, and I think that’s made a massive difference in the world game, these franchise leagues.”
Finch and Kohli are IPL teammates.Source: News Corp Australia
Within the current series there are a number of IPL teammates playing on opposing sides.
Virat Kohli and Yuzvendra Chahal play with Adam Zampa and Aaron Finch at Royal Challengers Bangalore, Shikhar Dhawan and Shreyas Iyer are with Marcus Stoinis and Alex Carey at Delhi Capitals, and KL Rahul and Glenn Maxwell are teammates at Kings XI Punjab.
For a player of Vaughan’s generation, such familiarity with the international opposition was unheard of.
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“In our times and through our careers we weren’t really teammates with any of the opposition in international cricket, so you didn’t really know anybody, so you didn’t get that friendship,” he said. “It almost became a little bit more in your face, probably a little bit more hostile to opposing international players.
“Now, if they’re not teammates, one of their teammates is a teammate with the opposing side.”
He added: “I like a bit of confrontation on the pitch. I hope we’re not going to go for an era where it becomes friendly and everyone’s patting each other on the back.”
Hardik Pandya congratulated Steve Smith on another century.Source: Getty Images
Zaheer Khan agrees, saying India coach Ravi Shastri — who is no stranger to heated rivalries — should encourage his team to bring back some verbal volleys at the Australians, especially Steve Smith and David Warner.
“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),” Khan said on Cricbuzz Live.
“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.”
Fun and games.Source: Getty Images