India have so far dominated the Boxing Day Test but with Tim Paine behind the stumps, a bit of chatter and banter is never too far away. After needling Murali Vijay in Perth, Paine targeted Rohit Sharma and challenged him to hit Nathan Lyon for a six.
Rohit, who had missed the second Test at Perth Stadium last week, was trying to settle down against some tight bowling when Tim Paine decided to have a bit of a chat with Aaron Finch to try and distract Rohit.
However, Rohit remained undeterred and scored his first Test fifty outside Asia since 2015. Incidentally, the last time Rohit had scored a Test fifty outside Asia was in Sydney back in January 2015.
During a critical moment in the second day’s play, Paine told Finch, who was standing close in:
“It’s always been a toss up for me between the (Rajasthan) Royals and the (Mumbai) Indians as to who I support,” Paine said to Finch, as Sharma took strike.
“If Rohit hits a six here I’m changing to Mumbai,” Paine said.
But Sharma didn’t bite as Paine declared there was “too many poms down at the Royals.
“I’ve played at the Royals.” Finch added.
“You’ve played for every team, mate.” Paine suggested, before Finch quipped back “except Bangalore”.
The banter continued in the very next over, as Paine discussed Finch’s bowling ability, with the Australian opener yet to bowl a Test match over.
“Could Finchy get you out?” Paine asked Sharma.
“To be fair, the hardest two overs I faced all last year were you in Shield cricket. It was impossible to play. It’s the most nervous I’ve been in a game of cricket.” Paine added.
Speaking to the media after the day’s play, Finch revealed what they were trying to do with Rohit Sharma.
“We were just trying to have a bit of banter with Rohit. I asked Rohit if we brought mid on up if he’d take us on and go into IPL mode and he didn’t take the bait, unfortunately.
The Aussie keeper was trying his best to rile up Rohit and force him to commit a mistake and Paine even brought long-on up to entice the Indian batsman to hit the ball on the top. But the experienced Rohit didn’t fall for it and kept playing his natural game and took India to 346/4 at the end of the second session.
Banned Trio to be ‘welcomed back with open arms,’ Finch
Amid the renewed noise around Australian cricket’s banned trio, the message out of the Test team dressing room is clear – they want them back.
Opener Aaron Finch has echoed the sentiments of national coach Justin Langer, saying the Australians will welcome back Steve Smith and David Warner with open arms.
Cameron Bancroft’s ban ends in two days when he returns with the Perth Scorchers and Finch also wished his fellow opener well.
While Warner has kept his own counsel so far, there is plenty of interest in what he might say given he is painted as the ringleader of the sandpaper plot.
But Finch said Smith and Warner have earned their Australian recalls when they return in three months.
“When Davey and Steve are ready to make their – be allowed to come back and play cricket for Australia and their states – from my point of view they’ll be welcomed back with open arms,” Finch said.
“Whatever’s happened, has happened.
“The punishment has been dealt. They’ve been working really hard off the field to meet every criteria, and go above and beyond everything that has been asked of them, to come back and play international cricket again.”