Skippers' verbal warfare continues

Skippers' verbal warfare continues

Virat Kohli and Tim Paine are leading from the front -- one has led his team to victory in the first Test in Adelaide and the other is on the cusp of achieving it here. They, however, don’t seem to be content with that. They are having to go at each other -- not just to win but to mentally disintegrate each other.

Their banter which soon turned into a mild sledging of each other on Sunday evening, continued on Monday as well. When Paine got out in the second session of the fourth day, Kohli had a lot to say for his rival number who returned the favour when the Indian skipper was dismissed in the final session, triggering wild celebrations by Australian players. If you thought once Kohli was back in his dugout, normalcy would be restored, Paine wasn’t yet ready for it. The stumper, in a totally unwarranted move, wondered aloud to M Vijay, “I know he (Kohli) is your captain, but you can’t seriously like him as a bloke?”.  

In fact, in the first session, on-field umpire Chris Gaffaney had to intervene when the two skippers accidentally collided with each other and began exchanging notes, though they weren’t exactly pleasantries (see box).   

India paceman Mohammad Shami and Aussie quick Josh Hazlewood, however, played down the incidents. While Shami felt a little bit of bantering enhances the interest in the game, Hazlewood said it was all fun.      

“It is part of the game, nothing too serious,” Shami began when asked if things are boiling over between the two teams. “When you play Test cricket it is a long match and you have a long time, so a little bit aggression is there and sometimes you react in that moment. We don’t need to mind these things too much. If these things don’t happen in the match, then I think the match won’t be interesting either. If there is no sledging, you won’t enjoy the game, the public won’t enjoy the game. If there is aggression, the match becomes more interesting. It is part of the game. As it should be.”

Kohli had said before the series that he wouldn’t start the sledging game but will not hold back if one gave it to him. Shami was asked as to which was instigating point but the bowler shouldered his arms again.  

“There might be some moment and you get a reply in that moment from the opposition,” he noted. “So maybe in that moment, things get heated up, but it is not something to be made a big issue out of. According to me, we should leave this here. It is part of the game and it is a way to enjoy things in the Test match that sometimes we say things, they get upset and make mistakes. These are the moments, but nothing personal.”

Hazlewood, too, refused to read too much into the issue when he was asked as to what he and his team-mates made of Paine-Kohli banter.

"I think it was all good fun, it's quite competitive out there as you know and there's going to be words from time to time but it was all in good spirits I think. I don't think we read too much into it, we go about our work as we see fit and the Indians can do what they like. We control what we control and our behaviour is what we control. We'll worry about that and let everything else take care of itself.”