Ravichandran Ashwin wasn’t even playing but he still had the last laugh over Tim Paine.
The off-spinner was the hero for India at the SCG, batting bravely on the final day to secure an incredible draw and his teammates went one better in Brisbane, pulling off a record fourth innings run chase to beat Australia at the Gabba for the first time since 1988 and win the series 2-1.
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Everyone in cricket was stunned by the remarkable result, taking to social media to express their admiration for an Indian side depleted by injury and running on fumes.
But Ashwin’s response took the cake.
“Good evening from Gabba!! I am sorry I couldn’t play here but thanks for hosting us and playing some hard cricket during these tough times. We will remember this series forever! @tdpaine36 @CricketAus,” he tweeted.
That’s right, Ashwin had the gall to tag Australian captain Paine in his tweet.
Even his wife joined in. “SEE YOU AT THE GABBA MATE,” she tweeted.
Some context is needed to appreciate why this reaction was the best of the bunch. When he was defying the odds on his way to a match-saving 39 from 128 balls in the third Test at the SCG, Paine lost his temper and verbally abused Ashwin.
The wicketkeeper called him a “d***head” and said: “We can’t wait to get you to the Gabba, Ash.
“At least my teammates like me, d***head. I’ve got a lot more Indian friends than you do. Even your teammates think you’re a goose. Don’t they. Every one.”
When Ashwin asked Paine to “tell me when you’re done”, the skipper replied: “I can talk all day mate. You wait until you get to the Gabba, pal.”
The quickest, bounciest pitch in the country is — or at least was, before Tuesday — Australia’s fortress. The suggestion from Paine that Ashwin would cop some short stuff on a more menacing surface than the one he faced in Sydney set the scene for a fiery rematch between the pair.
Unfortunately, Ashwin was ruled out of the deciding Test with injury and the sledgefest never continued — or so we thought, until Ashwin and his wife picked up their phones.
Plenty of cricket fans were quick to notice the not-so-subtle dig.
Channel 7 reporter Chris Garry tweeted “solid return serve from Ashwin!” while his colleague Andrew McCormack wrote: “Damn, Ashwin really went ahead and tagged Tim Paine.”
Sports journalist Daniel Gregory said “sensational from Ashwin” while English greats were also quick to poke fun at Paine.
Replying to a video of the Australian leader sledging Ashwin in Sydney, Ashes-winning captain Michael Vaughan wrote: “Aged well” with a couple of cheeky emojis.
Former England fast bowler Darren Gough tweeted: “Is it too early for #waittillwegetyoutobrisbane”?