Kohli’s banter and Paine’s response truly capture match situation at the end of Day 3
It is the end of three absorbing days of cricket, the Perth Test seems to be evenly poised at the end of day three. Australia ended the day at 132 for four wickets. They now lead India by 175 runs with six wickets in hand.
Nothing can summarize the state of the match better than a ‘friendly’ banter that took place between the Indian captain and his Aussie counterpart towards the fag end of the day. The Indian bowlers were bowling exceedingly well when Paine came to the crease at the fall of the fourth wicket.
In the company of a struggling, but determined Usman Khawaja, he was trying to stave off the Indian attack, and the day was coming to a close when Kohli told Paine, “If you mess up, it’s 2-0.” Tim Paine’s quick response to this was, “You’ve got to bat first big head.” Neither seemed agitated during the response, and it was possibly said in good humour.
But this friendly exchange truly reflects how precariously the match is poised right now. Tomorrow morning, if Australia lose some quick wickets, or in Kohli’s words, if the Aussies “mess up”, then India may be set a target of around 250 and the visitors can surely back themselves to chase a target like that and make it 2-0.
However, before India can entertain the thought of 2-0, they will have to bat exceptionally well. Even if the Aussies set a target of 250, it is not an easy target to chase on this wicket. But if they bat well and set a 300 plus target, then they will be the firm favourites to square the series at Perth.
The first session on the fourth day is going to be extremely crucial for both teams just as the first session on the third day was. The Aussies will have to be on guard against a collapse. And the Indians will not only need to take the remaining wickets quickly but will have to bat really well to extend their lead in the series.