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I don’t respect someone (Mitchell Johnson) who doesn’t respect me, says Virat Kohli

Virat Kohli has already established a reputation of being someone who enjoys a squabble in the middle.

It probably wasn’t the first time that Virat Kohli had been called a ‘spoilt brat’ during his young yet illustrious cricket career. But on this occasion, the Indian batting star seemed to take more umbrage to it than ever before. For this time, it was Mitchell Johnson and some of the other Australians who had called him one at the centre of the MCG. And in a dramatic press-conference following a majestic third century on the tour, Kohli declared that he did not have any respect for Johnson, while taking a number of pot-shots at the Australian way of playing cricket and explaining why it was working in his favour.

“It was going on throughout the day. They were calling me a spoilt brat, and I said maybe that’s the way I am. You guys hate me and I like that. I like playing against Australia because it is very hard for them to stay calm, and I don’t mind an argument on the field as it really excites me and brings the best out of me. So they don’t seem to be learning the lesson,” he said sporting a cheeky grin, one that rarely left his face during the 15-enterprising minutes he spent describing his mental battles with the Aussies.

“I respect quite a few of them, but someone who doesn’t respect me I have no reason to respect him,” Kohli said. “There were words in Adelaide as well where they said, ‘No unnecessary respect for him.’ I said, ‘I don’t need it. I am out here to play cricket, not to hear anyone’s respect. As long as I am scoring runs, I am happy with it. If you like it, good. If you don’t, I am not bothered.”

Not long after Ryan Harris sounded more than a tad surprised about Kohli’s insistence over Johnson’s lack of respect for him. He also hinted at them being childish claims, while struggling to find words to respond to them.

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“We all respect him. He’s a pretty good player so I don’t know where he gets that from. I respect him, and I know all the boys in the change room respect him because he has come out and his bat does the talking. Where he gets that from I am not sure. There’s a bit of banter on the field but if that doesn’t stay out there and comes up here, he needs to have a look at that,” said a quizzical Harris.

There had been an unrestrained volley of verbals from both parties throughout the day, as has been the case whenever Kohli has been in the middle of the action during this tour. But what really lit the fuse here was when Johnson threw a ball back at the right-hander, who had strayed out of his crease after playing a forward push, and struck the batsman rather than the stumps. While Kohli didn’t react much right away, he launched a tirade on Johnson at the end of that over.

“I was really annoyed with him hitting me with the ball and I told him that’s not on — ‘try and hit the stumps next time, not my body.’ You got to send the right message across, I am not there to take to some unnecessary words or chats from someone. There’s no good reason that I should respect unnecessarily some people when they are not respecting me,” he said.

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By now, Kohli has already established a reputation of being someone who enjoys a squabble in the middle. And it’s a penchant that he likes to focus upon in situations where the opposition has in his opinion tried to rile him up. To the extent that on Sunday he admitted that when he plays against teams who do not collectively believe in getting under their opponents’ skins, he takes the onus upon himself to do so.

“You always have a few who can’t keep calm in every team. So I have my targets,” he said.

Harris though clarified his pace department colleague’s intentions and said that he had flung the ball back only in search of a run-out and not to target Kohli. He also revealed that at times it was Kohli who brings the wrath of the on-field Australians upon himself by starting off a mini-quarrel. The burly pacer also added that rather than get affected by Kohli’s ‘lack of respect’ diatribe it could end up playing into the home team’s hands.

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“It’s interesting to hear him say [all] that. It’s probably a good thing. Because he’s probably worried about that. We (now) need him to worry about that instead of (his) batting. If he’s worrying about stuff like that, hopefully his batting goes downhill. That’s probably the way we think,” said Harris.

First published on: 29-12-2014 at 01:54:00 am
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