India captain Virat Kohli on Wednesday stressed that both the teams will indulge in intense competition in the four-match Test series against Australia starting from Thursday on December 6, 2018, but maintained the players will not cross any lines this time around. After the ball-tampering incident earlier this year, Australian Cricket has undergone a cultural review, and are adopting a non-aggressive approach.
But the Indian captain maintained that the series will still have a few tense moments, even though it will not go out of control like it has happened before. “I don’t see stuff happening, which has happened in the past where both teams have crossed the line. But still it’s a competitive sport at the end of the day and it’s international cricket. We don’t expect guys to just come, bowl and walk back,” the 30-year-old said.
“Obviously, there are going to be times when you have to put the batsmen under pressure. Not necessarily crossing the line, but just get into their heads which you expect from any side in the world, not just Australia. It’s going to be there, but it’s not going to happen at the level, which has happened in the past, where both teams have lost control,” he added.
The right-handed batsman further stressed that a change in team’s attitude will not necessarily dull the rivalry. “I don’t think, personally, any team should be totally negative after something like that happens (ball-tampering fallout). But the competitiveness will be there because you eventually want to get the guys out. If the situation is going your way, and you understand against the important guy in the opposition, you will go hard at that person. Be it your body language or putting in a word or two,” he said.
He further argued that a bit of banter between teams is not harmful to the the spirit of the game. “But I don’t see anything radical happening because the skill-set is high and we necessarily wouldn’t need to get into anything but at times when situations are difficult you do find ways to upset the rhythm. I think a bit of banter there, it is not harmful at all,” he said.
Despite the series being touted to be India’s best chance to clinch a rare series win in Australia, in the absence of David Warner and Steve Smith, Kohli maintained that the men in blue cannot take the opposition lightly. “You definitely can’t take any side for granted and more so Australia in Australia because regardless of what happened, skill level is still there. So you have to respect that. At the end of the day, however you talk or behave in a certain manner, it’s your skill level that comes (into play),” he said.
On being asked about all the attention on him in Australia, prior to the series, with every former and current cricketer discussing plans to contain him, Kohli said he believes all the members of his team can change a match at any moment.
“Whatever batsmen we have, all of them have so much ability that every one of them can single-handedly turn any game. This is something I believe in 120 per cent, and even they have faith in themselves. On the outside what people think, we cannot control. I cannot tell people to not to talk about it or write about it,” Kohli said.
Going into Adelaide, where the Indian captain has scored three tons in two Tests, Kohli said it is his favourite ground outside India. “I love coming to this ground, the city in general. I really enjoy the city, I don’t know what the connection is, but I just feel really good here. Not to say that the performances are always guaranteed in a certain place but yes, coming to Adelaide I feel different from places that I have gone in the world and that’s been the case,” he said.
“It happens to every cricketer, they have a favourite ground away from home. For me, Adelaide has always been special, because I scored my first Test ton here. So, from then on the connection started. It’s a great place to play cricket in general; the stadium has been redone, the pitch has always been good. So it’s about which team plays better, it’s been that kind of pitch. They are no-givens on the Adelaide pitch. I have enjoyed my cricket here,” he further said.
He further added that the familiarity with the ground will help him going into the first Test. “Familiarity certainly will help the fact that we have played quite a few Test matches here before and scored runs. So I think it’s even more important to know that you have performed in a place and you know how to get runs there. It’s all about remembering those good things that we did and applying it here. I know England and South Africa were tougher. Australia can be a great place to bat if the batsmen apply themselves well. But it takes character. It takes grinding out tough situations,” he sounded cautiously optimistic,” he said.