Tuesday 26 February 2008 

Mahendra Singh Dhoni Critical Of Australian Behaviour

Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni has tested already strained relations between his side and Australia by publicly criticising the Australians' on-field behaviour.

The wicket-keeper has accused Australian players of provoking some of his younger team-mates, inducing them to misbehave.

Indian bowler Ishant Sharma received a fine for 'sending off' Andrew Symonds having dismissed him, with Dhoni claiming that the youngster was provoked by Symonds, something which was also noted by the match referee when handing down the punishment, a fine of 15 percent of his match fee.

"He only reacted to what Symonds said to him," Dhoni told reporters in Hobart on Tuesday.

Symonds, meanwhile, has denied any provocation, instead saying he had congratulated the Indians on a good piece of bowling but that his gesture was misunderstood.

Sharma was the third Indian player to be fined for misconduct on the tour, after Harbhajan Singh and Rohit Sharma, although Dhoni believes his players are not to blame for their actions.

"If you're getting provoked then there are ways in which you can reply so you have to be careful about it," he said.

"We have youngsters in the side who will learn all these arts. I think it's an art. You have to be good at it."

Brett Lee added his thoughts on the matter, denying that there was any ill-feeling between the two sides.

"As soon as we walk over that white line we're competitive and we're playing as hard as we possibly can," Lee said.

"But I can tell you that off the field there has been some amazing friendships formed over the past couple of months.

"We've got some great mates in the Indian side."

Dhoni also said his side played the game hard, but fair:

"Cricket can never be friendly," Dhoni said.

"There will always be aggression on the field but as long as it's balanced and nobody crosses the line, then it's fair enough."