Virat Kohli has been left with egg on his face after an arrogant sledge towards Tim Paine was revealed.
Kohli and Paine have been involved in a verbal battle over the last two days in Perth, with the rival skippers first exchanging words late on Day 3.
They could be seen jawing at each other as they made their way off the field after stumps on Sunday, and it’s now been revealed what was said.
According to leading cricket journo Robert Craddock, Kohli told Paine: “I’m the best player in the world and you’re just a stand-in captain.”
However that sledge appears to have backfired brutally after Paine got the better of Kohli on a fiery fourth day.
After another running battle, Paine outfoxed Kohli to bring about the Indian skipper’s dismissal.
Paine could be heard on stump microphones telling Nathan Lyon to pitch the ball in the rough in an attempt to spin it sharply back at Kohli.
That line of thinking appeared to get into Kohli’s head and was his eventual undoing, playing for too much spin and getting an outside edge to Usman Khawaja at first slip off a ball that pitched just before the rough and went on straight.
“I know he’s your captain but you can’t seriously like him as a bloke.”
This cheeky sledge from Paine to Murali Vijay – picked up on stump mic – summed up Australia’s dislike for Kohli.
In a bizarre moment early on Day 4, Kohli squared up to Paine chest-to-chest while the Australian was completing a run, and stump microphones picked up umpire Chris Gaffaney demanding the two behave themselves.
“That’s enough … play the game,” Gaffaney said. “You boys are the captains. Play the game.”
Paine defended himself.
“There’s no swearing,” he said.
But Gaffaney reminded the skippers of their roles.
“You’re the captain, Tim,” Gaffaney responded.
An increasingly fired-up Kohli pleaded his case to square-leg umpire Kumar Dharmasena as Paine and Usman Khawaja continued to extend Australia’s second-innings lead.
Former Australian paceman Mitchell Johnson revealed what Kohli was saying.
“Speaking to a couple of the boys, Virat was going to the umpire and telling the umpire that ‘Tim Paine is talking to me. Can you tell him to stop?’ That type of thing,” Johnson told Fox Cricket.
“Which I find quite interesting with what happened (on Sunday).”
Paine’s fighting knock was brought to an end on 37 when he gloved a rising Mohammed Shami delivery to Kohli to slip.
Kohli could hardly contain his joy as he gobbled up the catch, with Paine looking back in disgust at India’s wild celebrations as he walked from the field.
Australian players returned the favour during the final session when spinner Nathan Lyon snared Kohli’s scalp for 17.
Revelling in India’s demise, Paine then delivered his cheeky sledge to Vijay, questioning how anyone could possibly like Kohli.
Australia had been criticised recently for being too nice in the wake of the ball-tampering scandal.
From the evidence seen in the second Test, Australia have found a better balance, engaging in sledging without going over the line.
Tensions bubbled on day three when Kohli and teammates appealed vociferously for a caught-behind appeal in the final over, desperate to dismiss Paine.
It was turned down and India had no interest in reviewing but stump microphones picked up Kohli having a dig at his counterpart.
“If he messes it up, it’s 2-0,” Kohli said, referencing the series lead he is so determined to take at Perth Stadium.
Paine replied: “You’ve got to bat first, big head”.