Of all the behind-the-wicket banter that Australia captain Tim Paine has served up in 35 tests, his narky comment to Ravichandran Ashwin may end up the one he rues the most after India’s incredible series-sealing win in Brisbane on Tuesday.
“Can’t wait to get you to the Gabba,” Paine snarled at the Indian spinner before Ashwin helped bat the tourists to a galvanising draw at the Sydney Cricket Ground.
Paine had good reason to feel confident Australia would rise up and crush India in Brisbane, a ground where the home side were unbeaten since 1988.
Ajinkya Rahane’s India were unravelling, with the last of their first-choice bowlers suffering series-ending injuries.
Australia’s vaunted pace attack of Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood was still intact, and salivating at the prospect of the Gabba’s steepening bounce.
With Ashwin ruled out of the series finale with a back problem, wicketkeeper Rishabh Pant delivered the ultimate riposte on his behalf by smashing a brilliant 89 to guide India to a three-wicket win.
It seemed scarcely possible that India would save the match, much less win it after being set a victory target of 328 runs on day…