The all-new Australian brand of cricket seems to be on the right track after apparent tensions between the two captains were dismissed in the respective post-match press conferences.
In reference to his on-field spat with Tim Paine, Virat Kohli steadfastly beat off any accusations of untoward personal insults, stating that: “As long as there is no swearing, the line doesn’t get crossed”.
This comes after Kohli’s own dubious dismissal to a low catch on the third day at Perth, and the subsequent exchange of words with his opposite number, referred to by Paine himself as mere “conversation”.
Nevertheless, heightened emotions were evident as Kohli allegedly crowned himself the best player in the world; Paine simply replied with a crude “big-head”, and later asked Murali Vijay whether it was even possible to “seriously like him (Kohli) as a bloke”.
Such friction between the two sides has been commonplace throughout this keenly-contested Test, but animosity to the level of the previous South Africa series earlier this year has fortunately not reared its ugly head. Indeed, Paine was effusive in his praise for his Indian counterpart after the fourth day, saying of Kohli: “I enjoy watching him, I always have. I think he brings out the competitive spirit in a lot of people, which is great, and I’m sure it was great to watch.”
“I know he’s your captain but you can’t seriously like him as a bloke.”
Some ‘Elite Honesty’ from Tim Paine.
— Wisden (@WisdenCricket) December 17, 2018
This good-tempered discussion follows India’s capitulation on the final day of the Perth Test at the hands of the ever-threatening Australian attack. Nathan Lyon continued his superb form, claiming the crucial wicket of Rishabh Pant (and the Player of the Match award too), but it was Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins who together did the bulk of the work, claiming three wickets apiece.
After Hanuma Vihari’s inside edge nestled in the hands of Marcus Harris, the removal of Pant to an impressive catch from Peter Handscomb instigated Australia’s march to victory. Yadav, Sharma and Bumrah were then dismissed in quick succession, leaving India with a paltry 140 and confirming what had seemed probable at the start of play.
In fact, Australia’s dominance was so total that the last four wickets fell for just three runs – perhaps the only surprise was that Starc’s familiar toe-crushing yorkers did not claim any victims.
Speaking after the match, Paine was eager to play down the significance of victory, stating: “It’s a relief more than anything, it’s taken a while with everything that’s happened.” Yet, despite Paine’s indifference, this result is undeniably important for the series, but also in confirming the renewed vigour of Australian cricket.