The Perth Test witnessed a huge war of words between India cricket skipper Virat Kohli and Australia cricket captain Tim Paine. Both players went after each other on days three and four, with Kohli starting it all when he reminded of how one mistake from Australia could cost them the series. In response, Paine called Kohli ‘Big Head’ and in one interaction which was picked up by the stump microphone, Paine told Murali Vijay, “I know he is your captain but can you seriously like him as a bloke?” The confrontation between Kohli and Paine was only part of the larger circus as Australia won the match by 146 runs to level the four-match series 1-1 heading into the Boxing Day Test in Melbourne on December 26.
However, Justin Langer, the coach of the Australian cricket team, has said the aggression shown by India was simply brilliant. “As the two captains and they're trying to stamp their authority on the game and I don't think at any point there was any abuse or any real aggression to it.In fact there was a bit of humour and there's been a lot of talk about banter. There's got to be some in a Test match. It's a great part of the game, and there was actually a bit of humour, a bit of Aussie humour as well. That's what we pride ourselves on. We've got a bad reputation in a lot of ways, but when there's a bit of humour in it I thought it was a good exchange,” Langer told Fox Cricket.
During the face-off, there was also a time when Kohli and Paine got close to each other and nearly made physical contact. Langer said there was nothing malicious in that act. “I think the days of Dennis Lillee and Javed Miandad are gone. I think Andrew Symonds did it to a spectator one day, it was one of the best shirt-fronts you've ever seen in your life, but I can't ever imagine that in the environment we're now in with so many cameras. It'd be absolutely silly for that to happen. That's not cricket. They (Paine and Kohli) got close, but in a lot of ways it's not a contact sport. We get that, but it was all part of that theatre of Test cricket,” Langer added.
Langer added that Australia have copped a fair bit of flak ever since the ball-tampering scandal in Cape Town and the team felt more relieved after securing their first Test win since that scandal. The left-hander said getting the wicket of Rishabh Pant made the team more relaxed.
“That was the first time in about 16 hours that I relaxed. I just had this sneaking suspicion - he's a very dangerous player, when he got out I thought 'ok now we can maybe enjoy it. I remember my first Test hundred, if you go to my house there's the bat I had, and it's just a relief after all that time. It's probably eight years, and that was the emotion. In a lot of ways, that's the emotion now, relief to get the result. A lot of them (Australian cricketers) have been bashed for nine months. Now they can sit back and enjoy it,” Langer said.