Former India captain Anil Kumble reveals that team India wanted to withdraw from the 2007-08 Australia tour after Harbhajan Singh was suspended for 3 matches following the 'Monkeygate' incident. However, the team later changed their mind and decided that the best approach would be to try and draw the four-Test series by winning the third and fourth matches.
During the second test match in Sydney, off-spinner Harbhajan Singh, and Australian all-rounder Andrew Symonds were involved in verbal wrangling during which the off-spinner allegedly leveled a racist remark against Symonds. The incident led to Harbhajan's suspension for 3-matches before it was overturned on an appeal later.
Anil Kumble who was the captain of Indian test team then said during a conversation with Ravichandran Ashwin on his YouTube channel that, "You know as a captain you're generally tuned to take decisions on the field".
"Here I was faced with something, which was off the field, to take a decision in the larger interest of the game. And one of our players [Harbhajan Singh] was obviously banned for three matches because of a racist remark – that was what the pronouncement was and we appealed".
"I felt he was wronged. We had to obviously be together as a team but the challenge was that there was a lot of talk about the team wanting to come back at that point in time. Yes, you know, probably [people] would have accepted that the Indian team was wronged and that’s why they came back".
He further said that even they wanted to withdraw but decided to stay as they thought this would be the best message that they can give back to their fans.
"I think as a captain, or as a team, we had gone there to win the series. Unfortunately, with the first two results not going our way, the best result could have been a drawn series because two more Test matches remained, and I just wanted to rally around the team. I was fortunate enough to have senior players, former captains, in the team".
"We got around as a unit and then we sort of took a decision to continue, and make sure that we go on and win the next couple of matches because that would be the best message that we can give back to our fans. Because whenever an Indian team travels abroad, the fans expect the team to do really well and win the series. I certainly believe that we had the ability to do that", he concluded.