What’s the story?
Steven Smith and Virat Kohli are two of the world’s best batsmen right now, and while there is an air of general respect between the duo, there have been instances in the past when they have had a fallout.
On the eve of the second Test in Bangalore, Steven Smith decided to play a little mind game with his counterpart while speaking to the Australian Associated Press. He said, “I'm sure they'll feel under a bit of pressure. Going into this series, all I heard was 4-0 to them. The way we played last week was such a positive sign. We're one win away from regaining the Border-Gavaskar trophy"
Certainly not shy about speaking his mind, Kohli had a curt reply to the Australian. "Does it look like it? I'm pretty relaxed. I'm happy. I'm smiling. It's fine - his views and whatever he wants to say. It's time we focus on our skills more than what Australia is saying. I know these mind games in these press conferences are something they're very good at” the Indian captain said.
The India-Australia rivalry has intensified over the years and reached its peak during the Sourav Ganguly-Steve Waugh era. Ever since then, players have become accustomed to the mind games that generally accompany any contest between the two top-ranked Test sides in the world.
The Indians are certainly feeling the pressure ahead of the second Test, and Smith is just making sure he points that out. He alludes to the fact that while a 4-0 was widely expected, Australia showed just how wrong that prediction was with their performance in the first Test. However, his parting blow was the one that stung the most, as he reminded the hosts that the Aussies are on the brink of retaining the Border-Gavaskar Trophy they won in 2015.
Virat Kohli has learned to deal with these situations very well and passed off the remarks with a smile. He did what a captain needs to do and this stage – present a bold face and ensure that the focus of the team remains solely on their performance.
Parallels from history
There have been a number of instances of sledging between the two nations over the years. The one that stands out most was the exchange between Virat Kohli and Mitchell Johnson in 2016. While Kohli dominated Johnson during India’s tour down-under in 2014-15, the latter would have the last laugh in the ICC Cricket World semi-final in 2015 by taking his wicket.
Johnson even took to Twitter to remind Kohli of the same –
Love it!! Went missing in WC semi last yr when it really counts https://t.co/ZwxkjCMEPB— Mitchell Johnson (@MitchJohnson398) March 26, 2016
There is plenty riding on the second Test in Bangalore with the visitors needing just another win to retain the Border-Gavaskar Trophy. After having annihilated India in the first Test, the Aussies will be playing with a bit of swagger, and they are often most dangerous when they are doing so.
Sparks will fly when the two teams take to the field for the second Test and we might see a few on-field altercations.