Don't see things getting personal anymore - Virat Kohli on Australia rivalry

When India starts its campaign in the Border-Gavaskar Trophy on Thursday, "play hard, but don't get personal," will be the mantra of the team.

Virat Kohli and Tim Paine with the Border-Gavaskar Trophy.   -  GETTY IMAGES

India captain Virat Kohli understands that playing Australia in its backyard is never an easy job. Emotions overflow, there are banters and the crowd ensures the home team never misses out on their support.

But then, the year 2020 has also taught him it is alright to not hold grudges and create uncalled-for tension. For both India and Australia, it is an opportunity to play Test cricket after a hiatus of nine months, and it is important to be cordial.

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When India starts its campaign in the Border-Gavaskar Trophy on Thursday, "play hard, but don't get personal" will be the mantra of the team. "This year has made people realise that a lot of things which might not have been necessary in the past, where you hold grudges and have unnecessary tension between teams or individuals, is absolutely pointless. You are still going to be professional and make sure that you are positive and aggressive in your body language and the way you go about on the field," Kohli said on the eve of the Pink-ball Test, which begins in Adelaide.

"I don't think that things are going to be as personal as they used to be before. Also because of the fact that we understand we are contributing to a larger cause and it's the quality of cricket that has to stand out," the captain said.

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Over the years, India-Australia cricketing rivalry has been intense. There have been instances in the past when things have often got ugly. But since the last tour in 2018, things seemed to have changed. And Kohli admits that it has also got to do with the fact that a lot of Australian cricketers now feature in the Indian Premier League and share a camaraderie.

"It could be a culmination of playing IPL together, and also Australia changing their approach to an extent. Just the way things have panned out this year, everyone is just grateful for the opportunity to be back on the field. It's not like the games haven't been as intense or (less) competitive, it's just that the unnecessary stuff has been filtered out. There is much more respect between the sides and you can see it on the field," the captain said.

Calling himself a representative of a 'new India', Kohli said: "I hope cricket continues to be competitive. We should not compromise on the quality of the game. Banters will go on here and there all the time - that's the highest level of cricket we play and it's going to be competitive. There is going to be stress, tension, emotions flaring every now and then. But I don't foresee anything getting personal anymore," he stated.

"If you are stepping onto the field thinking we will have smiles on our faces, handshakes throughout the day, that's a wrong idea to have. You have to maintain the dignity of the sport, and also have to understand that you are competing at the highest level with two quality sides going at each other and there will be moments when things are going to be difficult and teams are going to stand at each other, but not in a disrespectful way."

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