Virat Kohli has always shared a volatile relationship when it came to sledging in Australia. In the 2012 Sydney Test, he showed his middle finger to one section of the crowd to voice his displeasure against the ‘personal’ chats of the crowd.
On the field, the Indian skipper has always given it back to his Australian counterparts, especially in 2014/15 in tense contests in Adelaide and Melbourne. However, in the upcoming series, instances of sledging from the hosts might come down as the team reels from the bans to Steve Smith and David Warner in the wake of the ball-tampering scandal. Speaking in the press conference before India depart for their two-month tour Down Under, Kohli said he had no problem playing in an environment where there is no hostility.
“On a personal level, I have no need to go finding for these things anymore. I have enough belief in my play that I can pump myself up. It is a personal decision as to why they want to cut down (sledging). They will not give it back. 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 said.
Following the ball-tampering scandal, Tim Paine, the new Australian Test skipper has said the team needs to change the way they play in order to gain back the respect and attention of the Australian public. “We've got to look at different ways of doing that and more respectful ways of putting opposition teams under the pump. Part of what we spoke about a lot is playing on skill, not emotion,” Paine had said when he took over the captaincy for the Johannesburg Test against South Africa.
Time for chopping and changing over
However, Ravi Shastri, the coach of the Indian cricket team said something significant when asked about the team structure heading into the 2019 World Cup.
“As far as ODIs are concerned, we will try to play as close to the 15 for the World Cup as we can. Chopping and changing is over now. Grace period is over. Now, we must play as a unit. Hopefully, we do not have much injuries. There are not many games now. We have 13 games before the World Cup and we will try to play the best team as much as possible,” Shastri emphatically stated.
Under Kohli, India did not play the same XI for 37 consecutive Tests and even in the ODIs, there were plenty of changes as India adopted the ‘Horses for Courses’ approach, meaning playing different players according to the conditions.
India will play three ODIs in Australia, followed by five ODIs in New Zealand. After that, India might play a five-game ODI series at home before heading to the World Cup.