Sport Cricket Paine and Kohli clash as Australia takes a grip on the second Test
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Paine and Kohli clash as Australia takes a grip on the second Test

Paine Kohli cricket
Kohli and Paine get up close and personal in Perth. Photos: Getty
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Final session,  Day Four, Second Test, Perth

Aus –  326         243

India – 283      5 – 112

Pant -9   Vihari – 24    India requires 175  runs to win with five wickets in hand.

“I know he’s your captain but you can’t seriously like him as a bloke.”

Australian captain Tim Paine made it quite clear that Virat Kohli is not receiving an invite to Xmas dinner when he posed that question to Indian batsman Murali Vijay at Optus Stadium on Monday afternoon.

Paine won the verbal jousting and most of the cricket skirmishes throughout another brilliant day of Test cricket in Perth.

Earlier in the day, the tension between the two captains threatened to bubble over with the two protagonists engaging in an exchange of words that required umpire Chris Gaffaney to remind both men: “You’re the captains, just play the game.”

Kohli and Paine exchanged barbs in the final session on day three and were at it again during the first session on day four as the stakes were raised by a solid Australian batting performance.

When Australia finished at 243 leaving India with a target of 287 runs for victory with five sessions of play remaining, Kohli’s wicket was always going to be the prize the Australians wanted most.

Unsurprisingly, Paine and his teammates were delighted to see Nathan Lyon remove Kohli (17) when he edged to Usman Khawaja at slip.

Lyon then followed up with a pearl of a delivery that deceived Murali Vijay (20) and bowled him.

Khawaja was full of praise for the in-form off-spinner.

“He’s unbelievable, first innings, second innings it doesn’t really matter. He does it day in, day out. ” Khawaja told Fox Cricket.

The Australian assault began when Mitchell Starc struck in the first over of India’s second innings after Lokesh Rahul (0) offered a half-hearted prod that chopped the new ball into his stumps.

Moments later Cheteshwar Pujara (4) edged Josh Hazelwood behind inviting Viral Kohli to stride to the crease.

It was a dramatic start to the afternoon session on day four.

Paine (37) and Aaron Finch (25)  were dismissed in successive balls in the first over after lunch as India roared back into life thanks to the bowling of Mohammed Shami.

Paine was caught by his nemesis, Kohli from an unplayable ball from Shami. When Khawaja (72) was caught by wicketkeeper Pant off the bowling of Yadev, suddenly Australia had lost 3-8 after lunch.

Shami was sensational after the lunch break and finished with 6-56.

India was frustrated by the last-wicket, 36-run partnership by Josh Hazelwood  (17*) and Starc (14) that made a victory target just that much harder to reach.

Australia’s fate was in the hands of its senior players at the start of day four.

At the start of play Paine’s team were 4-132 and went to the first break at 4-190 and with an overall lead of 233 runs.

The Australians eked out 58 runs from 30 overs in the morning session and, crucially, didn’t lose a wicket.

Khawaja needed a score in this innings as much for himself as well as the team.

The Queensland captain has had a torrid time as injury and family issues disrupted his preparation for this series.

Khawaja brought up his 14th Test half-century off 155 deliveries, an innings that was less about his stroke play and more about his dogged determination to tilt the balance of this match Australia’s way.

The go-slow from the Australians began to frustrate the Indian bowlers and their captain who could sense their grip on the contest may be slipping.

It clearly agitated Kohli who was determined to distract the Australian skipper.

Paine’s team have given him a shot at guiding  Australia to victory under his leadership for the first time on home shores.

This time last year Paine made an unbeaten 49 in an Australian team that rampaged to victory in the final ever Test at the WACA to secure The Ashes.

That moment must seem like a distant planet to Paine and his teammates, who have since been a team stripped bare by its own misdeeds. A win in this Test isn’t redemption but it would be a relief for a group that has been on the ropes for most of the year.

Australia will be hunting for the five wickets that will square the series as it heads to its marquee appointment on Boxing Day at the MCG.

As the summer began many wondered if Australia’s cricket public still had a passion for red ball cricket and baggy green caps.

Both teams in this series have made a compelling case that it should.  And there’s every reason to think the best is actually yet to come.

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