Australia’s Test captain Tim Paine has described his side as having “polarising” opinions about his India counterpart Virat Kohli. Though he says Kohli is “just another player to me”, Paine remained upbeat about the rivalry that he and his side shared with the Indian captain.
“With Virat, it is a funny one – we love to hate him, but we also love to watch him bat as cricket fans,” Paine told ABC Sport. “He certainly is polarising in that type of scenario. We love watching him bat, but we don’t like seeing him score too many runs.
At different points during India’s tour to Australia in 2018-19, both captains were involved in heated exchanges. During the second Test in Perth, words were exchanged multiple times – especially when Paine was batting in the second innings – with the umpires having to intervene. India eventually claimed the series 2-1 and became the first Asian side to win a Test series in Australia.
“Australia and India, it’s a heated competition and he’s obviously a competitive person and so am I,” Paine said. “So yeah, there were a few occasions when we had words but that wasn’t because he was the captain and I was the captain – it could have been anyone. It’s often the best player is the one that your team goes up a little bit, the intensity goes up when the best players in the world come out to the crease.”
This time, however, Kohli is set to miss three out of the four Tests as he is due to return home for the birth of his first child. That won’t take anything away from how big the series is, according to Paine, who will have in his ranks Steven Smith and David Warner. The pair missed that 2018-19 series due to their year-long ban in the aftermath of the ball-tampering saga.
“I’m looking forward to everything to be honest, it’s a huge series,” Paine said. “They beat us here last time obviously with a different team. I think any time you get to test yourself against the best is something that you look forward to as players and as a team, and we certainly are.”
The first Test – a day-night fixture – starts in Adelaide on December 17, which follows the limited-overs segment featuring three ODIs and T20Is each. The tour concludes with the fourth Test in Brisbane from January 15.