RELISHING GOING HEAD-TO-HEAD WITH VIRAT KOHLI BUT NOT ANNOYED AT ALL, SAYS TIM PAINE

Australia skipper Tim Paine said on Monday he is “relishing going head-to-head” with his Indian counterpart Virat Kohli in a Test series and looked forward to “intense, hard” cricket in the Boxing Day game at Melbourne.

The pair had heated exchanges in the second Test at Perth, prompting the umpire to intervene. Australia won the game to level the four-match series at 1-1. Paine said he understands that Kohli never liked to lose.

“A lot was made of my battle with Virat in the second Test, and for the past few years when I haven’t been playing international cricket, he was one guy I loved watching,” he said in a column for Herald Sun.

“Now to be out in the middle going head-to-head with him in a Test series is something I’m really relishing.”

Paine said he was not annoyed “in the slightest” by Kohli. “Virat is someone who is prepared to wear his heart on his sleeve and like all professional athletes, hates to lose,” he said. “I like the way Virat plays. I don’t know him personally but I’ve always admired — not only his obvious skill as a player — but the passion and aggression he plays with. People like to see that and he gets fans through the gates.”

Meanwhile, Australian coach Justin Langer said allrounder Mitchell Marsh is “an attractive commodity” and remains in contention for a return to the Boxing Day Test because of the MCG pitch.

“In a perfectly balanced side you’ll have someone who can bowl some overs so Mitch becomes an attractive commodity on a wicket probably unlike Adelaide and Perth,” he said.