A spicy third Test could be on the cards at the SCG after Australian captain Tim Paine revealed tensions “are starting to boil” as a result of unnamed sources within the Indian camp who have been complaining about the quarantine provisions and the location of the fourth and final Test.
Speaking on Wednesday ahead of Thursday’s Test in Sydney, Paine made it crystal clear that sections of the Australian set-up weren’t thrilled about reports suggesting India did not want to travel to Brisbane if they had to adhere to strict hotel quarantine protocols.
Tim Paine and Ajinkya Rahane after the second Test in Melbourne. Credit:AP
The tension could be a source of sledging on the field, with Paine admitting an “unusually tame” series could spring to life with both sides having won a Test apiece with two remaining.
“I think it’s boiling away,” Paine said. “There’s some stuff starting to happen, there’s a bit of chat starting to happen. I think this Test is going to be fascinating, not just from a cricket point of view, but also I think there has been tension starting to boil over the surface with a lot of unnamed sources coming out from their camp saying where they want to play the fourth Test and where they don’t want to go.
“I think it’s starting to grind a few people. We’ll see how it goes.”
Paine was then asked whether there had been frustration in the Australian camp that India potentially might not want to travel to Brisbane.
Coach Justin Langer and captain Tim Paine at the SCG. Credit:Getty Images
“I wouldn't say frustration,” Paine said. “I'd just say a bit of uncertainty because when you hear things like that coming – particularly from India, who we know hold a lot of power in world cricket – it's likely it could happen.
“We're not buying into where the Test is being played. As far as we're aware, it is at the Gabba, but as I said in the team meeting the other day, we couldn't care less. If you rang us up and said it's in Mumbai tomorrow, we'd get on a plane and play it. That's the way we are looking at it.
“It’s been unusually tame the start of this series and I think it’s because both teams are just happy to be back playing Test cricket. There has been such a big break and there is a lot of respect between the two teams, there’s no doubt about that, but it’s very competitive sides.”
The hosts need to avoid a loss at the SCG to remain alive in the series, having crashed back to earth in Melbourne following their superb showing in Adelaide.
Paine was in charge two years ago when Australia lost their first Test series on home soil to India and is acutely aware of the magnitude of this Test.
“Absolutely it's disappointing that we lost that last series, regardless of the team we had,” Paine said. “This Test is the most important Test we've played in a long time and that's the way we're treating it.
“The series is up for grabs still and we want to win it. We won convincingly in Adelaide but apart from an hour of magical bowling from our quicks, we were pretty ordinary in that Test as well. We know we need to improve.”
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