Kohli: ‘Things have changed, we are no more friends’

Virat Kohli had been singularly targeted, and responded in kind, but even he would not have expected the extremely personal nature of attacks.

Virat Kohli was magnanimous as well in his praise for the opposition, at least on field, in the way it fought back till the very end of the four-match series.   -  V. V. Krishnan

If anyone thought that the acrimonious war of words over the past almost two months between India and Australia would finally see closure at the end of the series, he was wrong. And Virat Kohli made sure the message went out loud and clear – they were no longer friends, anywhere.

It wasn’t a coincidence that it came to a query from the Australian media, or that the question itself came from one of the visitors. Reminded of his pre-series comments that players from the two sides were friends off the field, he was curt in his response.

“No, it has changed. 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 I’ve been proven wrong. The thing I said before the first Test, that has certainly changed and you won’t hear me say that (we are friends) ever again,” Kohli brushed it off.

It wasn’t just an aggressive captain venting his anger at the relentless barrage of criticism he has faced from the Australia media since the beginning of the Test series.

Kohli had been singularly targeted, and responded in kind, but even he would not have expected the extremely personal nature of attacks. Even in Ranchi, he had quipped that while the Indian media concentrated on the game, the Australians only looked for controversies.

It was a clear indication that an end to the series did not mean an end to the bitterness, even though his Australian counterpart Steve Smith had apologized for things that happened through the tour. “Criticism is not in my control. I was targeted individually, and I haven’t done well in this series so opportunities galore for everyone to come out and speak about me, which is fine...very easy to sit at home and write a blog or speak behind a mic.

“I think that’s easier than coming out and competing in the field,” he remarked, making it clear that there was a difference between criticism and accusations.

The Indian captain, though, was magnanimous as well in his praise for the opposition, at least on field, in the way it fought back till the very end of the four-match series.“They have challenged us really hard… the resistance from the opposition was a lot more compared to the last few series that we have played. I think they had the belief of making things happen in these conditions.

“They believed they could win sessions and situations and that was the most challenging thing. Whereas teams lose their morale once they lose a Test in India, they kept bouncing back and they had the desire to compete throughout. You expect that from Australia, once they get a sniff they put you under pressure,” Kohli said.

He was also quick to add that he was proud of the way his team responded, praising the fact that every member had contributed to the team over the past 13 Tests – with India winning 10 of those and drawing two.

“It tested the guys’ character to bounce back from difficult situations. Specially Ajinkya (Rahane), the way he captained in this game was pleasing because it has just been four matches since he has come back from injury and to step up, show that character and lead the side to a win, hats off to him. These kinds of series and matches, they build character,” he said.