India’s batting mainstay Virat Kohli suggested Australia will make the grave mistake of adding “fuel to fire” if they needle him in Sunday’s win-or-bust World Twenty20 contest but asserted he is good enough to excel without provocations.
A self-admitted admirer, as well as practitioner, of Australia’s passionate, aggressive brand of cricket, it was almost inevitable that the 27-year-old has featured in several on-field spats with them.
With a place in the semi-finals at stake, sparks may fly again in Sunday’s mouth-watering contest between inaugural T20 champions India and reigning 50-over world champions Australia.
“I’ve always said that I sort of thrive on those situations,” Kohli told reporters on Friday. “But you just can’t go in with that sort of mindset only. You need to be versatile…”
“If I get into a debate with anyone, if I have to take a certain stance, that doesn’t necessarily put me off my game. If anything, that motivates me more,” said India’s test captain.
“It doesn’t mean if I don’t get into a debate with someone, I won’t be motivated to win the game for my team.
“It’s better to plan your innings without that situation and if that situation comes in, you have to take in as more fuel to the fire.”
Kohli gave an animated send-off to Steve Smith in an Adelaide T20 earlier this year while the Indian also featured in an on-field spat with James Faulkner, telling the Australian all-rounder “I’ve smashed you enough in my life”.
He, however, has enough respect for rival captain Smith, who anchors Australia’s top order teeming otherwise with power-hitters.
“Obviously he’s been a very important player for Australia,” Kohli said. “The way their batting unit works, someone like Steve Smith gives them solidity in the middle order which is great for any team.
“If we can have a person who can play the least number of dot balls and still keep the scoreboard ticking while the others are having a go at a few bowler, it always helps as a batting unit.”
Kohli acknowledged Smith’s class but was optimistic his bowling colleagues can silence the right-hander.
“You want to get everyone’s wicket… but top quality players around the world tend to have answers for them more often than not.
“You just have to make life as difficult as possible for them and take up the challenge that ‘yes, he is a very good player, he is a world class player but I am going to take his wicket today’.”