Aussie cricket captain Tim Paine's place in the side became a hot topic for discussion between former Test greats Michael Hussey and Shane Warne on Friday.
Paine's side were bowled out for 191 on day two in Adelaide, before India made it to stumps at 1/9 to take a 53-run lead into day three on Saturday.
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With Australia's batting order all failing to fire, with the exception of Marnus Labuschagne (47 runs), talked soon turned to Paine when the skipper came to the crease with Australia reeling at 5/79.
With Australia in desperate need of a saviour and Paine's average only 31.66 in Test cricket and no centuries to his name, Hussey and Warne butted heads about whether he deserved a place in the team.
“There was a lot of talk coming into this summer saying Tim Paine needs runs with the bat,” Hussey said.
“For me it is almost irrelevant. His runs are an absolute bonus.
“It is about his keeping. If he is the number one keeper in the country that is what I think he needs to be picked on.
“You can’t afford to miss things behind the stumps. Yes we want him to contribute with the bat as well, but that is a bonus.”
However, Warne argued that while his captaincy and leadership had been excellent after the ball-tampering scandal, Paine needed to make runs.
The Spin King suggested the likes of Alex Carey - a man touted as a future Test wicketkeeper for Australia and regarded as a better batsman than Paine - were banging on the door of Test selection.
“So if he (Paine) is not making any runs he can stay in the side because he is a good keeper and captain?” Warne asked.
Hussey shot back: “If he is the best keeper in the country I am keeping him as keeper and captain".
“Interesting Huss, I think he needs to make runs,” Warne replied matter-of-factly.
Paine comes to Australia’s rescue
Curiously, Paine emphatically answered questions about his batting, with a potentially match-saving innings for his side.
The Aussie skipper top-scored with 73 not out to save the Aussies from serious embarrassment and keep the hosts' slim chances of victory alive.
A 32-run stand between Paine and Labuschagne was embarrassingly Australia's highest partnership.
It could have been far worse for the hosts, with Paine and Labuschagne among a handful of batsmen to benefit from reprieves.
Paine was on 26, and Australia in dire trouble at 7-113, when Mayank Agarwal dropped a catch in the deep.
Labuschagne was dropped on 12 and 21, by Jasprit Bumrah and Prithvi Shaw respectively.
Paine brought up his half-century in 70 balls, scoring with a degree of freedom that contradicted every other innings in the match.
Paine, Mitchell Starc, Nathan Lyon and Josh Hazlewood rallied their side from 7-111 yet Australia still recorded their lowest first-innings total in a day-night Test.
Paine's side started Friday in dominant fashion, needing just 22 minutes and 4.1 overs to capture four wickets and roll the tourists for 244.
Starc, who was granted an exemption from SA Health because he'd been isolating at home in Sydney's northern suburbs prior to flying to Adelaide, cleaned up the tail to enhance his reputation as the world's premier pink-ball bowler.
Bumrah shifted momentum in an inspired opening spell, igniting a collapse of 7-95 when he trapped out-of-form batsman Joe Burns and makeshift opener Matthew Wade lbw amid a bouncer barrage.
Virat Kohli clutched a magnificent catch to end Cameron Green's maiden knock on 11, handing Ravichandran Ashwin a third scalp after the offspinner removed Steve Smith and Travis Head.
Umesh Yadav claimed the all-important scalp of Labuschagne early in the night session, producing a ball that kept incredibly low and trapped the batsman plumb lbw.
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