Virat Kohli believes the COVID-19 pandemic, IPL friendships and Australia’s cultural change will ensure there are no personal verbals and “unnecessary stuff” this summer.
Kohli, who was fined for giving the finger to fans at the SCG on his first tour of Australia, has been cantankerous and keen to get involved in verbal stoushes for much of his career.
But in recent years the firebrand has cooled somewhat; he won the International Cricket Council’s spirit of cricket award last year for asking fans to stop booing Steve Smith at the World Cup.
Kohli suggested on the eve of the day-night Test that “tension, stress and emotions flaring now and then” would be part of the coming series.
Tim Paine, who swapped barbs with Kohli during his previous visit, vowed Australia will not take a backward step.
But Kohli, who declared he will never be friends with members of Australia’s squad after a scandal-laden series in 2017, believes this round of the rivalry won’t be nearly as heated as recent editions.
“This year has made people realise a lot of things that might not have been necessary in the past – when you hold grudges or have unnecessary tension between teams or individuals – is absolutely pointless,” Kohli told reporters.
“I don’t think things are going to be as personal as they used to be.
“The unnecessary stuff is going to get filtered out … (because of) a combination of playing IPL together, Australia changing their approach to an extent, and just the way things have panned out this year.”
Paine noted the Australians will adopt a “wait-and-see” approach towards the polarising Kohli in the only Test he will play before returning home for the birth of his first child.
“We certainly don’t go into it planning to have run-ins or be overly aggressive,” Paine said.
“As we all know, at times on cricket fields things can be a little bit willing.
“If that is the case, then there’s no doubt that this team will not be taking a backward step.”
The Indian skipper has a stellar record in Adelaide with three Test centuries from six innings and an average of 71.83.
Paine said while the Australians weren’t planning to joust with Kohli, they have formed a variety of tactics to curtail the scoring of the Indian megastar.
“Everyone has got great plans of getting all the best players out … and Virat is certainly one of the best players, if not the best player, in the world,” Paine said.
“When you play against players as good as Virat, at times they do get away from you, that’s just the game.