There’s nothing simple about Virat Kohli’s relationship with Australia. While the Indian skipper roughly averages 63 across formats in the island nation, he has not always been in the calmest of places mentally against the Aussies. Be it Sydney 2012, Adelaide 2014 or Perth 2018, typical Aussie banter has always seemed to have gotten the better of the Delhi batsman on the mental front.
It was, in fact, during India’s recent tour of Australia where Virat Kohli got involved in multiple altercations with his opposite number, Tim Paine. The sequence of events that led to the infamous verbal spat has been clearly documented in Prime Video’s latest special, ‘The Test’.
Virat Kohli vs Tim Paine
“The plan was not to talk to him when he was batting, when we were batting it’s kind of up to the individual what they want to do,” Paine said in the documentary. “I sort of just had enough and thought you also have to stand up for yourself and your teammates and that was one of the reasons I thought, ‘no, I’m the captain, it’s my turn, I have to stand up and show him we’re here for the fight’, he added.
Speaking about the episode, Tim Paine said, “He was trying to upset me with the part-time captain and I sort of went the opposite with him. I was sort of telling him how good he was and that he was the greatest player ever.”
“You don't want to get right into a fight with him because that's what he likes. I was just trying to poke him a little bit and see if I could get him to implode a little bit,” Paine admitted.
‘We’re seeing him start to get a bit punchy, a bit aggro': Justin Langer
Langer, addressing his players later that evening, was evidently troubled by the Indian captain’s behavior.
Boys, to be honest, I’m pretty emotional tonight, eh? Because I just think, one; you’re all probably feeling the double standards, the way their captain is carrying on, we sort of have to be really careful,” Langer told his players.
“With him, what I feel is that he’s getting nervous,” Paine added. “He still needs six wickets, he knows how hard our lower order is (still) to bat. And I think in terms of putting him under pressure, I think we’re getting there.
“I think we’re close and we’re seeing him start to get a bit punchy, a bit aggro. They’re all getting worried. So if we keep our cool, deliver our skill, we’ve got this game.”
Langer, while asking his players to stand up for themselves and for their teammates on one side emphasized on the “difference between abuse and banter” on the other.
This incident proved to be one of the biggest talking points of the Test series. Although both players had a go at each other, it is safe to say the Australian captain had the last laugh. Kohli was dismissed for 17 in the second innings and the Aussies went on to win the Test match by 146 runs, making the Perth test a rare silver lining in an otherwise dismal summer of cricket.