PERTH (Reuters) - On the brink of victory, Australia rediscovered a hard-edged approach on day four of the second test against India marked by verbal warring between captain Tim Paine and India counterpart Virat Kohli.
Since the Newlands ball-tampering scandal, Australia’s on-field histrionics had been toned down under the leadership of the wicketkeeper-captain.
During the pivotal day four at Perth Stadium, a purposeful Paine engaged in heated exchanges with Kohli, one of which forced umpire Chris Gaffaney to step in. Television stump microphones also caught Paine verbally jabbing Kohli on several occasions.
The Tasmanian led by example with a hard-fought 37 to bat through the morning session alongside Usman Khawaja (72) as Australia made 243 in their second innings.
Australia need five wickets to end a barren six-test run and provide Paine with his first triumph as skipper, as India teetered at 112 for 5 in pursuit of 287 runs.
Australia paceman Josh Hazlewood said Paine had grown as a leader since assuming the captaincy from the suspended Steve Smith.
“I think he is getting more confident,” he said. “He is an experienced player and he keeps things calm and doesn’t get too flustered.”
Even though emotions frayed, Hazlewood denied there was ill-feeling between the teams.
“It was quite competitive out there and there is going to be words but it was all in good spirit,” he said.
Spinner Nathan Lyon’s prized wicket of Kohli for 17 triggered scenes of jubilation, but Hazlewood said the India talisman was not Australia’s singular focus.
“I see Pujara as the big wicket, he is the glue that holds them together,” he said.
Hazlewood said Australia would not celebrate an expected victory prematurely.
“It has been a long time between drinks but there is a lot of work to be done tomorrow,” he said. “We just have to stay disciplined and patient. There is enough there in the wicket, we just have to hit the right areas.”
Reporting by Tristan Lavalette, Editing by Angus MacSwan