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Rebuilding relationships as important as winning against India – Australia captain Paine

India captain Virat Kohli and Australia's Tim Paine

Australia v India (first Test)
Venue: Adelaide Date: 6-10 December
Coverage: Live commentary on BBC Radio 5 live sports extra & BBC Sport website, plus desktop, tablets, mobiles and app.

Rebuilding a relationship with fans is just as important as Australia winning against India in their first home Test series since March’s ball-tampering scandal, says captain Tim Paine.

India have never won a Test series in Australia and the first of three matches starts on Thursday in Adelaide.

“Gaining the respect of our country and fans is as high priority as winning,” said wicketkeeper Paine.

“We play to win but clearly we realised we needed to do work in some areas.”

Paine replaced Steve Smith as Australia skipper after Smith was banned along with David Warner and Cameron Bancroft for the ball-tampering incidents in the third Test against South Africa in Cape Town.

When he took over, Paine said the team would reduce their levels of sledging under his leadership.

The series against India comes after an independent review commissioned by Cricket Australia found the body to be “arrogant and controlling” and partly to blame for the ball-tampering case.

The report included complaints from those involved in the sport of a bullying culture in elite men’s cricket.

Among the recommendations was an anti-harassment code to stop sledging, and training to improve team leaders’ “moral courage”.

It condemned a “winning without counting the costs” culture that left players in a “gilded bubble”.

The Test series comes after a two-match series against Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates where the first Test was drawn before Australia suffered a heavy 373-run defeat in game two.

Australia’s previous home series was last winter’s Ashes against England which the home side won 4-0.

But since then, they lost 3-1 in South Africa and are now fifth in the ICC Test rankings with India top of the standings.

‘The competitiveness will be there’

But India captain Virat Kohli said that Australia can still dominate at home and while he expects sledging to feature in the series, it will not go too far.

“We don’t expect bowlers to just come in and bowl and just walk back,” he said.

“Obviously there are going to be times when you have to put the batsman under pressure, not necessarily crossing the line but just getting into their heads.

“It is going to be there, but it’s not going to be at the level that has happened in the past where both teams have lost control.

“But the competitiveness will be there because you want to get guys out. If you are up against an important guy you will go hard at that person be it in your body language or putting in a word or two.

“At times when situations are difficult you do find ways to upset the batsman’s rhythm and I think a bit of banter is not harmful at all.”

Australia: Marcus Harris, Aaron Finch, Usman Khawaja, Shaun Marsh, Peter Handscomb, Travis Head, Tim Paine (c), Pat Cummins, Mitch Starc, Nathan Lyon, Josh Hazlewood.

India (from): Murali Vijay, KL Rahul, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli (c), Rohit Sharma, Ajinkya Rahane, Hanuma Vihari, Rishabh Pant, Ravi Ashwin, Mohammed Shami, Ishant Sharma, Jasprit Bumrah.

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BBC Sport – Cricket

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