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Two Indian cricket greats have refuted claims from Michael Clarke regarding Virat Kohli and the Indian Premier League.
The former Test captain sparked controversy last week when he claimed Aussie cricketers were ‘scared’ to sledge India and Kohli in fear of losing lucrative IPL deals.
Clarke suggested the Aussies had ‘sucked up’ to Kohli and his teammates the last time India toured Australia - a 2-1 Test series win to the tourists.
“Everybody knows how powerful India are in regards to the financial part of the game, internationally or domestically with the IPL,” Clarke said on Big Sports Breakfast.
“I feel that Australian cricket, and probably every other team over a little period, went the opposite and actually sucked up to India.
“They were too scared to sledge Kohli or the other Indian players.”
Australian players have attracted massive money since the IPL started in 2008, with Pat Cummins recently garnering the most expensive contract for an overseas player ever - $3.2 million.
Clarke, who played for the now-defunct Pune Warriors in 2012, said Australian players coveted the million-dollar deals on offer.
“The players were like: ‘I'm not going to sledge Kohli, I want him to pick me for Bangalore so I can make my $1 million for my six weeks’.”
“I feel like that’s where Australia went through that little phase where our cricket become a little bit softer or not as hard as we're accustomed to seeing.”
Indian greats slam ‘ridiculous’ suggestion
Cummins and Tim Paine have since shot down Clarke’s theory, and two Indian greats have now weighed in.
According to former India captain Kris Srikkanth, Clarke’s claims are ‘ridiculous’.
“You do not win matches just by sledging. The Aussies’ loss is a loss, his statement was ridiculous I would say,” Srikkanth told Star Sports.
”You need to bowl well to get wickets and bat well to achieve targets. Sledging cannot help in any way according to my opinion.”
VVS Laxman also refuted Clarke’s comments, saying a player’s treatment of India’s stars never factors into whether or not they’re selected to play IPL.
“As a mentor, I’m on the auction table and we select players, those international players that have played exceptionally well for their country and can add value to the franchise,” Laxman told Star Sports.
“Friendship with any Indian player doesn’t ensure entry into the IPL.”
Aussie stars dismiss Michael Clarke claims
Cummins offered a different reason for Australia’s lack of sledging against India, saying the side had made a point of trying to repair their image after the Cape Town sandpaper scandal in 2018.
“I think probably a bigger factor was six months before leading into that Indian series the media and everyone commentating on the Aussie cricket team were pretty clear in their direction in the way they wanted the team to go, and that was playing a little bit less aggressively out on the field," Cummins told the BBC last week.
“I'd say that would have been a bigger factor than trying to win or lose friends out on the cricket field.
“But you never know, that might have been a factor for some players.”
Paine said he was surprised by Clarke’s suggestion.
“I’m not sure who was going easy on (Kohli),” Paine told ESPNcricinfo.
“I certainly didn’t notice too many people being that nice to Virat or not trying to get him out or anything like that.
“I thought everyone who had the ball in their hand or when we were batting were trying their absolute best to win the game for Australia.
“We certainly had a thing where we didn’t want to provoke any fight with him because we think that’s when he plays at his best.”