When it comes to recent contests between India and Australia, there have been instances of Virat Kohli having an intense confrontation with a player from the opposition. In 2011, 2014 and recently when Australia had toured India, there were clashes between Kohli and certain Australian cricket team members. However, ahead of the four-Test series beginning in Adelaide on December 6, the Indian cricket team skipper has said he does not have to prove anything to anyone and is just focused on playing his natural game. India has not won a Test series in Australia and many analysts have said this is the best chance for the Indian team to break their drought Down Under.
“I think from last time round, I've become more assured of myself. I don't find the need to get involved in anything with the opposition and I think those are changes that keep happening gradually as you go forward,” Kohli said in a chat with a Sydney radio station.
The Indian skipper also said the sole focus was to help the team win at any cost. “In the early stage of my career I used to think of these things as important milestones which are really important in one's career, but now the focus is purely and solely on making the team win,” Kohli said.
Kohli-Australia at loggerheads
The right-hander, who is in magnificent form, has been at loggerheads with the Australian players and with the public ever since his first international tour here in 2011/12.
During the Sydney Test, with Michael Clarke scoring a triple ton, Kohli showed his middle finger to a section of the crowd and justified his act by tweeting, “I agree cricketers don't have to retaliate. When the crowd says the worst things about your mother and sister, the worst I've heard.”
In the 2014/15 series, Kohli was on top of his game and scored four centuries in the centuries to end with 692 runs at an average of 86.5. However, the series was marred by an ugly confrontation between Kohli and left-arm pacer Mitchell Johnson. Kohli had been struck on the body by Johnson, who was trying to hit the stumps after collecting the ball on his follow through. Kohli did not take too kindly to it and was seen talking back to Johnson.
In a press conference at the end of the day, Kohli said he had no need to respect Australian players who did not respect him. “I told him to throw the ball at the stumps and not on my body. It was not on. I respect a few of them. I have no reason to respect anyone who does not respect me. I'm not out there to gain anyone's respect. I'm out there to play cricket. They called me a spoilt brat, and I said maybe that's what I am. It seems to be working in my favour and they don't seem to be learning their lessons,” Kohli had remarked then.
Bitter end in India
During the 2017 series against Australia, the Bangalore Test witnessed an incident in which Steve Smith was caught asking the dressing room whether he wanted to take a review against an LBW decision. He stopped short of calling Smith a ‘cheat’ but remarked in a press conference, “Honestly, if someone makes a mistake while batting, for me personally, that's a brain fade.”
In Dharamsala, after India’s series win, Kohli said some relationships with the Australian players had changed. “It has changed for sure. I thought that was the case but it has changed for sure. As I said in the heat of the battle, you want to be competitive but yeah I have been proven wrong. The thing I said before the first Test, I have certainly been proven wrong and you won’t hear me say that ever again,” Kohli said.