The art of sledging has always hung around the genteel sport of cricket since time immemorial with verbal barbs and intimidation techniques being used as weapons by teams.
Though sledging does to some extent irritate batsmen (or in some rare cases the bowler) still if badly executed it can horribly backfire for the perpetrator’s.
Despite not exactly having a tradition in sledging, there have been numerous incidents as to when Indians have roared back after being at the receiving end.
Notable of them are of course Venkatesh Prasad giving Pakistan’s Aamer Sohail a grand send-off in the 1996 World Cup quarter-final tie at Bangalore or even Sourav Ganguly’s now famous shirt swinging on the hallowed Lords’ balcony post that famous 2002 Nat-West series win, which incidentally was response to Andrew Flintoff doing the same after England had clinched a humdinger of an ODI tie at Mumbai earlier that year.
The Australians (the finest exponents of the art) will definitely vouch for that, as a pumped up Virat Kohli shrugged off all heckling and went on to smash a superb 116 in the fourth Test at Adelaide.
Despite India being white-washed 4-0 and Kohli being on the receiving end (from the crowd of course!) for most part of that series, his century was a reminder as to how sledging can fuel motivation.
And who can forget that famous ‘jelly bean’ incident during India’s 2007 tour to England which prompted Zaheer Khan to hit back with a superb five-wicket haul in the second essay, thus giving India a memorable win.
It all started during India’s first-essay when the English slip-fielders irked Zaheer by constantly throwing jelly beans at the wicket.
A lengthy confrontation followed post which the incident continued which incensed Zaheer no end.
And the English got a perfect riposte come the second essay as a fired up Zaheer ripped through their top-order for a five for 75 which turned the game India’s way.
The most famous of them all is Yuvraj Singh dismantling Stuart Broad with six consecutive sixes in the 2007 World T20 tie at Durban after receiving a verbal tirade from Andrew Flintoff.
Yuvraj motivated himself post that smashed his way into history books whereas both Flintoff and Broad were later left scratching their heads as to what really hit them!
And to say that exactly a fortnight ago Yuvraj had been hammered for five consecutive sixes by Dmitri Mascarenhas during an ODI game at The Oval!
Of course the most hilarious of the lot has to be Sreesanth’s befitting reply to Andre Nel’s tirade during the 2007 Johannesburg contest with the former smashing the South African pacer for a six post that incident.
Nel, who had earlier tried to unsettle Sreesanth by terming him a ‘scared rabbit’, was left dumb-founded as the latter did a hilarious jig by swinging his bat round and round as if he had just won the World Cup!
Though the above mentioned incidents are classic examples to show that Indians do not shy away from giving it back when sledged, the latest incident involving Ishant Sharma and the Sri Lankans in the 2015 Colombo Test went a bit too far; as far as the head-banging and the shoulder barging from both parties was concerned.
Thankfully it inspired Ishant to deliver a match and series winning performance but also resulted in a one-Test ban for the pacer which only highlights that sometimes things do get out of hand despite all of it starting off with friendly banter.
As the South Africans visit India later in 2015 (October) it would be interesting to see if the current bunch of Indian players do fight fire with fire and dish out some barbs to the Proteas.
Ab De Villiers’ team will come out all guns blazing and try and unsettle India to no end.
With a fire-brand leader in Kohli and players like Ishant who has no hesitation giving it back, an entertaining and enterprising time is in store when the Proteas come calling.
So let the ‘sledging games’ begin!