India vs Australia rivalry is known for plenty of heat, and even controversy. The ongoing India's tour down under, however, has been anything but a showcase of 'rivalry'. There have been plenty of moments where the two teams have showcased sportsmanship, and even friendship.
Virat Kohli said it's a combination of players getting to know each other in the IPL, the changing approach of the Australian team and the general gratitude with which players play the game in 2020.
"I think it's a combination of all factors. This year also has made people realise a lot of things which might not have been necessary in the past where you hold grudges or have unnecessary tension between teams or individuals which is pointless," Kohli said in the pre-match press conference.
"You still have to be professional, positive and aggressive in the body language. But I don't think things are going to be as personal as they used to be before. Because we understand we're contributing to a larger cause and it's the quality of cricket that has to stand out. Obviously you're trying to get people out and score runs, but at the end of the day, the unnecessary stuff is going to get filtered out by itself.
"It could be a culmination of IPL and Australia changing their approach to an extent, and also just the way things have panned out this year. Everyone's just happy to be back on the field. It's not like the games have not been intense or competitive.
"I feel there's much more respect between the sides, you can see that on the field. I hope the cricket continues to be competitive. Banter is going to go on here and there all the time, that's the highest level of cricket we'll be playing so it will be competitive. There's going to be tension, stress and emotion flaring every now and then. I don't foresee anything getting personal anymore. Also, all of us getting smarter... a few more years into our careers and we have to make smarter choices."
While Kohli stressed the banter would never get personal, he pointed out that the aggression would remain the same.
"The media has absolute full right and space to see things and perceive as and how they want. As cricketers, we understand that we have to do what is required for the team in that moment. To make sure we move forward as a side, whether it's standing up to some chirp on the field or just being aggressive in our plans.
"At the highest level, the quality of cricket cannot be compromised. If you're stepping onto the field thinking yes, we'll have smiles and handshakes throughout the day and we're not going to be as aggressive or competitive in our body language, I think that's a wrong idea to have. You have to maintain the dignity of the sport but also understand you're competing with two quality sides.
"There will be moments where things get difficult and teams will stand up to each other. There's definitely more to Test cricket. Appreciation for someone's performance comes at the end of five days, and through the five days, the crowds will make things difficult for us. We are going to make things as difficult as possible for the opposition, and that's the beauty of Test cricket. It's going to be high voltage cricket on field."
The first Test begins in Adelaide on December 17.