Banter - let alone sledging - has been a rarity in this series, with the exchange at the MCG between Pant and Wade being the only notable incident, but Marnus Labuschagne, today, planted the seed for what could be an interesting few days. The Aussie pestered young Gill, only to get a cold response.
For years, dating back to the days of Dennis Lillee and Sunil Gavaskar, the India-Australia rivalry has been known for its fiery nature, with players often explicitly showcasing their rancour for their counterparts, but things took a drastic turn in the 2018/19 Border-Gavaskar Trophy. Though there was some antipathy, the series was largely played in a light-hearted manner, and the same was embodied by the rather ‘friendly’ sledges made by players, most notably Tim Paine and Rishabh Pant.
Since then the friendship between the Australian and Indian players has grown thicker, and that has resulted in the ongoing series being seen by many as the most ‘friendly’ India-Australia series ever-contested. The brief exchange between Rishabh Pant and Matthew Wade at the MCG threatened to change this, but the enmity was short-lived. On the morning of day 2 at the SCG, the series was witness to just the second notable ‘sledge’, but well, this was like no other.
Historically known to be an ‘annoying customer’ - as described by his own teammates - Marnus Labuschagne, who agonizingly missed out on a ton earlier in the day, was on the field doing what he does best: irritate his opponents. Generally he does this with his idiosyncrasies, but today, however, the weird-o-maniac, interestingly, decided to use his mouth. And, unsurprisingly, Labuschagne ‘sledged’ in the most Labuschagne-esque fashion imaginable.
Standing at forward short leg, the Queenslander, bizarrely, pestered young Shubman Gill, trying to put him off. Labuschagne, under the lid, kept repeatedly asking Gill who his favorite player was. The youngster gave his Aussie counterpart a cold shoulder for a good few seconds, but after being repeatedly pestered - including being asked if he idolized Sachin or Kohli - Gill finally lost his patience. Hilariously, though, the 21-year-old came up with the most inane response imaginable, replying with, “I’ll tell you after the match.”. Gill out-witted (read: out-weirded) Labuschagne with his response, and it eventually led to the Queenslander muting himself.
Never change, Marnus.