In the press conference before the Indian cricket team departed for their two-month long tour to Australia, skipper Virat Kohli said something interesting regarding sledging. Kohli said India would reciprocate in a certain way if Australia started their tactic of sledging but he is alright in playing in an environment where there is no hostility. Contests involving India and Australia have involved intense sledging battles in the last couple of series, most notably from 2008 which witnessed the infamous ‘Monkeygate’ affair involving Andrew Symonds and Harbhajan Singh in the Sydney Test. The 2014/15 series also involved a couple of tense affairs.
“When it comes to getting engaged in an argument on the field, I have been completely okay playing without an altercation. I have enough belief in my abilities. Those were very immature things I used to feed on when I was younger. We were always the one giving it back, we never started this thing. If it does not start, we are happy to focus on our game. If they are playing in a certain way, we will reciprocate in that way. In our minds, we must be competitive and not let our energies drop,” Kohli had said.
However, the statement has not found enough traction in the Australian media, with several media outlets taking a dig at Kohli for the statement. Mitchell Johnson, the former Australia pacer who retired from international cricket in November 2015, took a sly dig at Kohli. The left-arm pacer responded to a story put out by Fox Sports Australia and stated, “I look forward to no Virat send-offs.”
ðŸ¤£ I look forward to no Virat send offs ðŸ¤¥— Mitchell Johnson (@MitchJohnson398) November 15, 2018
Intense Johnson-Kohli rivalry
Johnson and Kohli had a few incidents during the 2014/15 series which Australia won 2-0. In the Adelaide Test, Johnson hit Kohli on the badge of his helmet with a bouncer, but the Indian skipper recovered to smash centuries in both innings of the Test. In the Melbourne Test, Johnson flung a ball at Kohli which hit him on the leg and that set off a chain of events where the batsman was indulged in a verbal duel with Johnson.
Following the end of the Test series, India and Australia squared off in the semi-final of the 2015 World Cup where the left-arm pacer had the last laugh. In the knock-out clash in Sydney, Kohli (1) top-edged a pull shot off Johnson to be caught by wicketkeeper Brad Haddin.
India will begin their tour of Australia with three Twenty20 Internationals, followed by four Tests and three ODIs.