Former captain Virat Kohli acknowledges that the intense rivalry between India and Australia has diminished over time, attributing it to India’s consistent victories abroad. Ahead of the World Test Championship final, Kohli spoke to the official broadcasters and expressed his observations about the respect Australia now holds for India during their blockbuster encounters.
While acknowledging the tension that existed between the two teams in the past, Kohli emphasized that the atmosphere has changed. India’s breakthrough series victory in Australia in 2018-19, followed by another triumph in 2020-21, played a significant role in altering the dynamics. In 2019, Kohli led India to their first-ever series win in Australia, capitalizing on the absence of star players Steve Smith and David Warner, and securing a 2-1 victory in the four-match Test series.
Two years later, despite the absence of key players due to injuries, India staged a remarkable comeback after a dismal start. After being bowled out for a mere 36 runs in the Adelaide Test, India rebounded under the captaincy of Ajinkya Rahane and clinched the series 2-1. Kohli and Australian batsman Steve Smith, who was at the center of a contentious exchange during a home Test series in 2017, has since moved on and developed a strong friendship.
“The rivalry between India and Australia used to be intense in the early days. There was tension in the air. But after winning two series in Australia, the rivalry has transformed into respect. As a Test team, we can’t be taken lightly. We can sense the respect the opposition has for us. They expect us to give them a tough fight even in their conditions. We can’t be underestimated anymore,” Virat Kohli shared with Star Sports from London.
He further added, “The tension that was once there has dissipated. We now stand on equal terms, with our presence being acknowledged.”
India has been engaged in a training camp in Sussex ahead of the World Test Championship final. Kohli, one of the first members of the team to arrive in the UK, has been preparing for the summit clash against Australia, scheduled to take place at the Oval in London from June 7 to 11.
India holds the distinction of being the first team to reach the World Test Championship final twice. Although they suffered a defeat against New Zealand in the inaugural edition in 2021 due to batting failures, Kohli expressed confidence in the team’s improved readiness for the Australian challenge in English conditions. The former captain believes that India vs. Australia final in England will be a thrilling contest, given that both teams will be adapting to unfamiliar conditions on neutral ground.
“At the Oval, you can’t expect a specific type of condition when you go out to bat. Quick adaptation is crucial. It’s a one-off match for both teams, and the team that adapts better will prevail,” Virat Kohli remarked. He added, “This is the beauty of the World Test Championship. Two teams competing on neutral territory, and it’s fascinating to witness how they adapt to the conditions.”