Perth Test victory over India ‘a big relief’ for winning captain Tim Paine
Band of brothers: Australia celebrate after beating India. © AFP

The Australia captain Tim Paine has termed his team’s 146-run victory over India in Perth on Tuesday as “a big relief” for it levelled the four-match series 1-1 and sets up a tasty Boxing Day Test at the MCG from December 26.

It took Australia 15 overs to take the remaining five wickets on day five at Optus Stadium, thus making it the first Test victory for Paine since he was thrust into the captaincy in April after the ball-tampering scandal broke in South Africa.

ALSO READ: Australia crush India by 146 runs in Perth to level series 1-1

“It’s a big relief, because the first Test win has taken a while,” said Paine after the win. “Really proud of all our players and all our staff. We have been getting better over the last few months and I think this is a reward and we now shift our focus to the MCG.

“It was a difficult Test, both games were tough. Two really competitive sides and two really good fast bowling attacks. It’s been hard work for batsmen and it was a great contest, because the ball was flying through here. The roller had a real effect in the morning because it had settled the pitch down but we knew we could open up the game later with our bowlers. It’s about being patient in that first session.”

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After losing the first Test in Adelaide by 31 runs, Australia landed in Perth desperate to keep the series alive. On a drop-in pitch at Optus Stadium – hosting its first Test after a solitary first-class match last month – Paine won the toss and opted to bat. He admitted that he was unsure of how the pitch would play, and thus chose to give his batsmen first use with fears of batting last a genuine reality.

As it panned out, Marcus Harris, in his second Test, and Aaron Finch put on 112 for the opening wicket which Paine termed as defining in the end result.

“Day one was funny. We won the toss and decided to bat. We had our fingers crossed and hoped we play pretty well,” said Paine. “Marcus Harris and Aaron Finch getting us to none for 100 was brilliant batting and probably the difference between the two sides. [Usman] Khawaja has been batting really well for a long time. He is in a really good space. If he keeps batting the way he is right now, I am sure some big runs are going to come.”

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With 16 wickets in two Tests, the last eight coming in a match-winning performance in Perth, Nathan Lyon has lived up to his pre-series billing as a major threat to the Indian batsmen. Lyon claimed 5/67 and 3/39 across two innings at Optus Stadium, his wickets including India captain Virat Kohli in the third innings, to be named Man of the Match.

“It’s great to have Lyon in our team,”said Paine. “Every team would want to have him in their team. You can throw him the ball in any condition, at any end, any time against any team and he loves bowling to the best players in the world. It’s a huge honour to captain the Australian side. Now to do it at the MCG for the Boxing Day Test is a special feeling. We all can’t wait to get to Melbourne.”