Dhoni says Sharma was provoked by Symonds

HOBART, Australia, Feb 26, 2008 (AFP) – Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni on Tuesday accused Australia’s Andrew Symonds of provoking young paceman Ishant Sharma in their tri-series clash at the SCG. However, Dhoni conceded that wasn’t necessarily the case, saying: “Cricket can never be friendly. 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.” The two became embroiled in a set-to when Symonds took offence to the Indian’s celebration after he had clean-bowled him, leading Sharma to point the all-rounder towards the pavilion.

The gesture led the 19-year-old bowler to be fined 15 per cent of Sunday’s match fee by match referee Jeff Crowe.

But speaking after his side crushed Sri Lanka by seven wickets here on Tuesday to earn a place in the tri-series final against Australia, Dhoni echoed the Indian management’s earlier claims that Symonds had instigated the incident.

“He only reacted to what Symonds said to him,” Dhoni said of Sharma’s reaction.

An Indian official confirmed that a complaint had been lodged with Crowe about provocative behaviour of several Australians — believed to be Symonds, captain Ricky