Feb 27, 2008 at 03:19pm IST

Provoke us and we will pay back, Dhoni tells Oz

New Delhi: The finals of the CB series from Sunday may well turn into a war on the cricket field between India and Australia.

Australia batsman Matthew Hayden’s verbal attack on India's cricketers, describing Harbhajan Singh as an "obnoxious weed" and challenging Ishant Sharma to a fight has angered the Indian team.

“It's been a bit of a long battle with Harbhajan. The first time I ever met him he was the same little obnoxious weed that he is now," Hayden told a Brisbane radio station on Tuesday.

SEE YOU ON SUNDAY: India-Australia go to war in Sydney from Sunday.

Hayden said the Australian players were fed up with the constant complaints from the Indians about their on-field behaviour.

Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni reacted angrily to Hayden’s statement and has made it clear his team will not back down in replying to Australian aggression in the tri-series finals.

"We believe it was the Australians who have been provoking us. It's been going on for a while. In due course I am sure (my team's) youngsters will learn from it," said Dhoni.

"Ishant only reacted to what Symonds said to him," he said when asked about the young pacer showing the "send-off finger" to Symonds in that game.

"It's never friendly in international cricket and aggression is okay if you don't cross the line," Dhoni said. "Ishant will learn this art in due course. I call it an art because it happens in international cricket all the time," he added.

Cricket Australia has decided to investigate Hayden’s remark on calling Harbhajan though the Indian cricket board has decided not to lodge a formal complaint against the Australian batsman.

Meanwhile Harbhajan has told CNN-IBN that he is not bothered one bit about the uncalled for comments and has nothing to say on the matter.

The Indian team management has just reiterated their stand that it's the Australian who indulge in sledging. Indian team manager Bimal Soni told reporters in Sydney that the players did not want to publicly respond to Hayden's comments. "We want to play cricket... with what Hayden said, our stance is vindicated," Soni said.

(With Reuters and PTI)

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