Paine loses focus while trying to sledge Ashwin, drops 3 catches

Ross Houston
January 13, 2021

A battered and bruised India lost only three wickets on the final day as they pulled off a stunning draw against Australia in the third Test in Sydney.

But Hanuma Vihari (23no off 161) - who was constrained by a hamstring strain he picked up while running - and Ravichandran Ashwin (39no off 128) thwarted Australia for 258 deliveries in a courageous partnership of 62 as the tourists achieved the draw, ending on 334-5.

Paine dropped three catches during the match.

Paine had a nasty verbal battle with Indian star Ravi Ashwin on day five at the SCG, as well as dropping three catches and setting questionable fields as the match ended in a draw, despite Australia's strong prospects of victory. The fourth and final Test begins at the Gabba, Brisbane on January 15. "That will be your last series".

"I want to apologise for the way I went about things leadership wasn't good enough, I let the pressure of the game get to me, Paine said, adding,"I'm a captain who wants to enjoy the game, who wants to play the game with a smile on his face and I fell short of my expectations and our team standards".

The last remark - complete with expletive - wasn't even new material from Paine, who used the same insult against Virat Kohliexternal-link on India's previous tour in 2018. Former Australia spinner Shane Warne added, "Ashwin is well within his right to do that [stop batting while Paine chirped behind the wickets]".

India captain Ajinkya Rahane said he was not too concerned "as long as it stays on the field", but India legend Sunil Gavaskar described the comments as "unwanted and unnecessary" on Channel 7 commentary.

"I'd also like to say sorry to Mohammed Siraj and the Indian team as racism, and abuse is not in any way acceptable or tolerated anywhere at any time, and I would expect better from our home crowd", said the left-handed batsman. Yesterday when I came off the ground my reflection was purely on my wicketkeeping.

"It's a awful feeling knowing that our fast bowlers and our spinner bowled their hearts out and gave everything to the team".

"I've got to cop that on the chin".

Paine made one in the first innings and 39 not out in the secondDid Smith deliberately scuff the pitch up?

In the 122nd over, Paine could be heard on stump mic, trying to sledge Ashwin.

Pant went on to scored an nearly game-changing 97 off 118 balls. Was it a deliberate attempt to alter the surface or just one of Smith's idiosyncrasies?

Critics, including former England captain Michael Vaughan, said Australia appeared to be heading "back to the old days" of sledging and foul language.

BBC Sport has contacted Cricket Australia for comment.

Pant's keeping was criticised after he dropped Australia opener Will Pucovski twice on the opening day but his batting heroics underlined why India keep playing him ahead of the technically superior Wriddhiman Saha.

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