Paine rubbishes Clarke’s Kohli claim

Former Test captain Michael Clarke accused Australia’s 2018-19 side of “sucking up” to Virat Kohli and India to safeguard IPL deals and now the current skipper has fired back.

Tim Paine dismissed the claims, saying that million-dollar IPL contracts were the last thing on their minds as Australia went down 2-1 in the home series against India.

“I’m not sure who was going easy on him,” Paine told ESPNcricinfo.

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“I certainly didn’t notice too many people being that nice to Virat or not trying to get him out or anything like that.

“I thought everyone who had the ball in their hand or when we were batting were trying their absolute best to win the game for Australia.

“We certainly had a thing where we didn’t want to provoke any fight with him because we think that’s when he plays at his best.”

Clarke accused the Australian Test side of putting IPL deals before the team. Picture: Brett CostelloSource:News Corp Australia

Paine was easily able to toss aside doubts about his own motivations as he was not involved with any IPL franchise at the time.

But he was still quick to defend his teammates, saying that their focus is squarely on winning the game.

“I certainly wasn’t holding back, but again, the IPL’s not a huge draw for me at the moment, so I had nothing to lose,” Paine said.

“But anytime our guys go out and play a Test match for Australia, they’ll be giving their absolute all and I’m pretty sure they’re not thinking about an IPL contract when they’re running in, bowling to Virat.”

Australia were without Steve Smith and David Warner for the series in a serious leadership void, meaning communication was even more important this time around.

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Even if the team had tried to sledge Kohli and put him off his game, Paine says it would have made no difference.

“What you say on the field is irrelevant 99 per cent of the time,” Paine said.

“Sometimes you can get a little inside someone’s head or something like that, but if you’re not batting well and not bowling well, all the talk in the world doesn’t mean anything.

“There’s no doubt our first focus is on executing our skill and being as good as we can possibly be in that area and then sometimes things happen on a cricket field and you’ve got to go in, you’ve got to change your tack, or you’ve got to have a few words.”

Originally published asPaine rubbishes Clarke’s Kohli claim

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