Relishing Going Head-to-head with Kohli but Not Annoyed at All: Paine

Arnold Nichols
December 26, 2018

Former India captain Sunil Gavaskar is the most high profile name to openly question the Test leadership credentials of Virat Kohli and coach Ravi Shastri after successive selection blunders denied the Indians a shot at victory in South Africa, England and Australia.

"It's out of our control. We know we have the bowlers that can defend (the total)". "Not necessarily looking at how hard the wicket is, but if you are able to feel comfortable there, then you are more or less in control of what you want to do".

"I've played a couple of IPLs with Virat and he's been fantastic to play under, as a captain", Starc told reporters.

Kohli and Paine had a running on-field battle in Perth, and even came close to contact on the fourth day before they exchanged a frosty post-game handshake. For me, that is my most favourite personal moment of the Boxing Day, when the anthems are sung, you are standing on the field and there are so many people around you.

"I'm not sure if he's going to bat but he's been cleared of any serious damage", spinner Nathan Lyon said of Finch's injury.

"We are quite happy coming to Melbourne at 1-1".

While Ashwin missed the Perth Test due to an abdominal strain, Rohit was forced to sit out of the XI after suffering a lower back injury while fielding at the Adelaide Oval.

"It's a very clearly understood situation that we pick the team, they pick the playing XI".

"Certainly when you have an inexperienced team and you get a big win like in Perth against the number one team in the world, guys are going to grow in confidence a little bit and come to Melbourne feeling better than when we did to Perth", Paine said on the eve of the match.

Shastri hit back at those in India who had criticised the non-selection of Jadeja when Ashwin was unavailable. When asked about the lack of a specialist spinner in the Perth Test, Shastri spat: "When you're millions of miles away, it's very easy to fire blanks".

"It is the kind of balance that you need when you go and play overseas".

"When you look at Perth, we felt [Jadeja] was about 70-80 per cent fit and we didn't want to risk that in Perth".

Following a surprise 2-1 loss to New Zealand in the United Arab Emirates, Pakistan take on the Proteas over the next three weeks, starting at Centurion on Boxing Day. But then again, we have to see how he pulls up tomorrow. The 48 year old, thus, has indirectly hinted at the axing of the opening combination of KL Rahul and Murali Vijay, who have looked completely out of sorts in the test series so far.

All-rounder Hardik Pandya, uncapped opener Mayank Agarwal and batsman Rohit Sharma are all options for India to consider. That hundred in the first innings is an unbelievable Test innings.

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