What Virat Kohli said about India-Australia cricket rivalry days ahead of World Test Championship final
India and Australia will play for the Test Championship mace at The Oval between June 7 and 11.
Virat Kohli (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)
Former India captain Virat Kohli has said the intense rivalry between India and Australia on the cricket field has mellowed down a bit after the Asian side started winning abroad consistently, pointing at its twin Test series victories Down Under in 2018-19 and 2020-21.
The 34-year-old, speaking to the official broadcasters just days ahead of the high-voltage World Test Championship (WTC) final at the Oval featuring India and Australia, said he is able to see the respect that the Australians have for India whenever the two teams lock horns in a series.
According to Kohli, who was the captain of the Indian side that won the 2018-19 series in Australia and in the first Test of the 2020-21 series before returning home for his daughter’s birth, said there used to be plenty of tension between the two teams when they played each other in the past but not anymore.
India won both the four-match series 2-1. Ajinkya Rahane stepped in as the India captain in Kohli’s absence in the 2020-21 series and led India to a series win despite trailing 0-1.
Australia have not won the Border-Gavaskar Trophy, the crown for which they compete against India in Tests, since 2014-15.
Kohli himself became the focal point in many India-Australia matches not only for his runs but also on-field arguments with opponent players. In 2017, he had lashed out at Australian players over alleged lack of respect and sportsmanship during a home series. However, both Kohli and Steve Smith, who has also been in discussion for wrong reasons during India-Australia Test matches in the past, have moved on since those days.
Kohli was even seen expressing his unhappiness with Indian supporters who jeered Smith over a ball-tampering scandal during a match in England in the 2019 World Cup. Smith personally thanked Kohli over his gesture. That had also happened at The Oval.
“The rivalry between India and Australia, in the early days, used to be a lot intense. There used to be a tense environment. But after we won 2 series in Australia, the rivalry has turned into respect. We can’t be taken lightly as a Test team. We can see the respect the oppositions have for us. They expect us to give a close fight even in their conditions. We can’t be taken lightly anymore,” Kohli told Star Sports from London.
“There used to be tension in the air in the past. But that’s not there now. You have your presence now, there’s standing on level terms now,” he added.
India players had a training camp for the WTC final which will be played between June 7 and 11. The ace India batter, who has an impressive record against Australia and smashed 186 the last time he faced them in March, arrived in the UK early after playing the Indian Premier League to begin preparation for the summit clash.
Kohli was the captain when India lost to New Zealand by eight wickets in the final of the inaugural WTC in Southampton in 2021.
India will be led by Rohit Sharma this time while Australia will be playing under Pat Cummins’s captaincy.