The Indian team is poised at a position of advantage in the ongoing Boxing Day Test at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. After a spirited batting display, led from the front by deputy captain Ajinkya Rahane’s century; the visitors’ bowling attack gave a strong bowling exhibition to reduce the hosts to 133/6 at the end of Day 3.
But more so than the on-field game, it was Rishabh Pant’s banter with Matthew Wade that grabbed the most eyeballs. The 23-year old India gloveman has quite a reputation for his speaking skills; especially after his ‘temporary captain’ conversations with Tim Paine became viral in the previous iteration of the Border-Gavaskar trophy. On this occasion, though, Pant engaged in some humourous live-game exchanges with Australia opener Matthew Wade.
Matthew Wade comments on Rishabh Pant’s weight; Pant sneers
It all started in the 17th over of the Australian second innings, when Wade creamed Mohammad Siraj for a four towards deep-point. Prior to this, Pant had been constantly commentating at each one of Wade’s moves. So in a bid to assert some psychological dominance, Wade decided to take a jibe at Pant’s fitness. “You’re 25 kilos overweight. Are you 20 kilos, 25, or 30 kilos overweight?”, Wade was caught inquiring Pant live during the match.
But it didn’t just end there. 8 overs later, Wade fended a sharp, angling Jasprit Bumrah delivery to the on-side. Pant saw yet another opportunity to strike some convo and made a mocking gesture at his Aussie counterpart. The stump mics picked him up sneering at Wade in a taunting manner, yelling “Heh heh heh…”.
Wade seemed to be clearly enjoying whatever was going on. He hit back at Pant with his own version of “Heh heh heh”, and further pressed him: “You’re looking at yourself on the big screen mate? Very funny watching yourself on the screen, eh?”.
“Just keeps laughing all the time. Maybe my batting is too funny”- Wade on Pant’s comedy behind the stumps
The intense ‘keeper-to-‘keeper verbal war reached its most intense phase when Ravichandran Ashwin bowled the final ball of the first session. Wade missed the ball angling outside off and did a full round-about to face Pant directly in the face. This face-off even seemed to entertain the commentators on-air. At the end of the play, they even asked Wade about what was going on between himself and Pant.
“ I don’t know what’s so funny”, Wade admitted to the FOX commentary panel. “Must be my batting. He just laughs all the time. Doesn’t really say much, he’s just always laughing at you.”
All banter aside, Wade made 40 runs and has emerged as the pick of the Aussie batsmen so far in the second innings. Currently, the hosts have a marginal 2-run lead, with just 4-wickets left. The onus will be on Cameron Green (17*) and Pat Cummins (15*) to guide the team to a respectable 4-innings target. Meanwhile team India would be eager to not let the tail wag and keep the target as low as possible. Winning this game will take them 1-1 in the 4-test series.