Virat Kohli believes that the days when Indian and Australian players considered each other as enemies, and indulged in ugly verbal battles, are long gone and is of the opinion that the Indian Premier League (IPL) has played a significant part in easing the tension between the two parties.
The recently-concluded Border Gavaskar Trophy was played in great spirits, with there being no on-field fights or controversies, but it was not too long ago that there was evident tension between the two sides. Things were especially ugly during the start of Kohli’s career, and continued being the same a few years into his captaincy, but the dynamics of the rivalry has visibly changed.
Respect and admiration, Kohli believes, is all that exists between the two sets of players and he described the change in attitude as a ‘nice step forward’.
“The IPL has changed quite a few things. The cricket is still competitive but the verbals and sledging aren't nasty anymore,” Kohli said in the 360 show featuring AB de Villiers.
“It’s become a game of good respect and admiration. They obviously have the same hunger when they see a situation (there for the taking), but the tension between the sides has significantly gone down. That’s what I’ve experienced this year.
“It is a nice step forward. It is progressive. It’s nice to have that camaraderie with the (Aussie) players.”
According to Kohli, senior players on both sides have started to appreciate the longevity and are at a stage in their careers where they cherish the competitiveness.
“Because also we’ve grown into our careers for such a long period of time - guys like Nathan Lyon, who I’ve played against for more than 10 years - we’ve started to appreciate the fact that we’ve had this opportunity to go against each other for more than a decade.
“It is fun to be competitive without nastiness.”
In a video posted on his Youtube channel last week, off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin alluded to the same.