Domain Tests v India
Umps didn’t need to get involved: Ponting
Australia great Ricky Ponting says the mid-pitch conversation between Tim Paine and Virat Kohli was 'lighthearted and quite funny'
Sam Ferris at Perth Stadium
18 December 2018, 12:05 PM AEST
Test legend Ricky Ponting says he has no issues with how rival captains Tim Paine and Virat Kohli swapped verbals in the second Domain Test but suggests superior skill will always trump sledging.
Paine and Kohli were locked in heated conversation in the final session on day three and as the teams left the field with the second Test in the balance.
But as Australia edged closer to victory on day four at Perth Stadium, the stump microphones picked up the opposing skippers sharing lighthearted words before umpire intervention ended the talk.
The highlight of the 'on-field commentary' from Paine was when he asked veteran opener Murali Vijay if he considered Kohli a "good bloke". Vijay neither confirmed nor denied Paine’s enquiry.
While Kohli has been at his most animated in Perth, despite suggesting his bat has done all the talking, Ponting has been impressed with how Paine has conducted himself and the feeling between the two sides.
"I think Tim stood up manfully," Ponting told cricket.com.
"He stood up for himself late last night, he stood up for his team and more importantly he got some vital runs and really led the way.
"A lot of the banter we've heard since has been quite funny.
"I know the umpires got involved but they probably didn't need to.
"It was a conversation, a bit of banter between the two captains and whatever we heard today has been pretty lighthearted and quite funny at times."
Ponting points out there is a direct correlation between the level of a team's banter and their position in the match.
A team that is in front is less likely to chirp the opposition, while a team on the back foot will use different methods to obtain the ascendency.
Ponting says winning the skill battle is what matters most.
"If you're playing good cricket you don't need to do that," he said.
"Australia are on top in this Test match now and if you look at both teams, Australia have had less to say than India have.
"Let your bat, let the ball do the talking and impose your skills on the opposition.
"If you can be more skillful and outplay your opponents in key moments then walking around with a smile on your face is quite easy.
"Australia weren't able to do that in Adelaide, they've done it for most of the game here in Perth and I'm sure if they start well again on day five that real aggressive Aussie attitude will be out there for everyone to see."
One player who is letting his skills do the talking is veteran off-spinner Nathan Lyon.
The 31-year-old claimed 5-67 in the first innings and struck two vital blows on day four, including the prized wicket of Kohli.
Lyon had the India captain pushing forward outside off stump and edging a ball that held its line through to Usman Khawaja at first slip.
The Kohli wicket was a prime example of how Lyon has taken his game to another level, according to Ponting.
"He's hardly had a bad series in long period of time," he said.
"Five hundred first-class wickets now, he's got Virat Kohli out more than any other bowler in Test cricket and to me now he just seems like he's getting better and better.
"His control is better, the ball is coming out of his hand perfectly, and he's a lot smarter.
"He knows how he's trying to get guys out. I had a chat with him the morning of day three when Kohli was 82 not out overnight and he said 'I just think I bowled a little bit straight to him. I need to bowl a fraction wider and challenge the outside edge of his bat a little bit more'.
"And guess how he got him out today? That exact way.
"It's one thing to be able to think about it, another thing to be able to execute it and he's doing both those things really well."
What impresses Ponting most about Lyon is how he performs in Australia.
Australia is traditionally a graveyard for finger spinners, but Lyon's record at home almost mirrors his phenomenal record away, a feat few off-spinners can boast.
"We know that when finger spinners come to Australia, whether they're Indian, Pakistani, Sri Lankan, whoever they are, they've all struggled here - but not Nathan Lyon," Ponting said.
"He loves the extra bounce he gets in Brisbane and bounce he got last week in Adelaide.
"He's bowled well here, he's used the footmarks, his arm ball really well.
"His variations and his skills are absolutely spot on."
Domain Test Series v India
Dec 14-18: Second Test, Perth Stadium
Dec 26-30: Third Test, MCG
Jan 3-7: Fourth Test, SCG
Australia squad: Tim Paine (c, wk), Josh Hazlewood (vc), Mitch Marsh (vc), Pat Cummins, Aaron Finch, Peter Handscomb, Marcus Harris, Travis Head, Usman Khawaja, Nathan Lyon, Shaun Marsh, Peter Siddle, Mitchell Starc, Chris Tremain
India squad: Virat Kohli (c), Murali Vijay, KL Rahul, Prithvi Shaw, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane, Hanuma Vihari, Rohit Sharma, Rishabh Pant (wk), Parthiv Patel (wk), Ravi Ashwin, Ravi Jadeja, Kuldeep Yadav, Mohammed Shami, Ishant Sharma, Umesh Yadav, Jasprit Bumrah, Bhuvneshwar Kumar