Mohali: 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, India's most in-form batsman at the moment, said it was difficult to be consistent in the shortest format and the two tight wins against Pakistan and Bangladesh were humbling experience for the team, which began its World T20 campaign as the overwhelming title favourites.
"It was very good to get that win (over Bangladesh). It is very difficult to be consistent in this format and you need to come to terms with that. Sometimes you need character to get you over the line and that is why our spinners and Hardik (Pandya) were brilliant for us," said Kohli ahead of the virtual quarterfinal between India and Australia in the ICC World T20 in Mohali on Sunday.
"This format requires you to be at the top of your focus while batting and fielding. So we need to stay in the moment and not get carried away," he said.
Kohli said Aussies will be tough as usual but they would take positives out of their 3-0 win Down Under in January.
"You always want to win convincingly but it is not possible all times. Sometimes you have to adapt well to tough situations like we did in the last two games. If you look at how we have played this season, we have been consistent. We can focus on what we did in Australia and take positives out of it but can't take anything for granted, it is a virtual quarterfinal. Why we beat them is important to remember rather than thinking only about the result. If we play to our potential, we can beat them again," asserted Kohli.
Kohli, who is in the form of his life, is a lot mellowed person now, although aggression still remains very much a part of his personality. Asked to give a sneak peek into his mental space, the team's biggest match winner had plenty to say.
"When I started, a lot about me was wrong. I was the tattoo guy, the one who wore stylish clothes. It is very easy to focus on the negative stuff but I choose not do that. The basic thinking is I want to improve as a cricketer every day. I make sure I do all the hard work and hope it pays off one day. I back myself to go out there and win the game.
"As a cricketer, you don't have a long career. For me it is an opportunity. Once you get addicted to it (performing), you want more and more of it. You work so hard and you want that satisfaction," he explained.
India had beaten Pakistan at Mohali in the semi-finals of the 50-over World Cup in 2011. Sunday's game is another crucial clash, one that would take the winner to the semi-finals of the World T20.
"One thing I have learnt is that if play well in semis and finals of the World Cup you become more confident as a player. The occasion (in 2011) was too overwhelming for me. I had seen the Prime Ministers of both countries present at the ground. It is very easy to look at all these and not focus on what you have to do. It is very important to be aware of the moment and celebrate after it is all done," said Kohli.
Kohli narrated the sequence of events that led to India's win over Bangladesh in the last game with skipper MS Dhoni sprinting towards the stumps for a last ball run out.
"Experience counts a lot in these situations. He has captained India in such big games and has that self assurance built over a period of time. We all know he is composed and calm. While I was standing at the boundary, there was Ashu bhai (Nehra) to talk to him. He was also very calm at the moment. MS got good suggestions from him and it was an important moment for us.
"The most staggering part was that he did not throw the ball and was very sure that he could beat the batsman with pace. It was brilliant from him under the circumstances."
Kohli said the key to success in a world event is adaptability to conditions that differ from match to match.
"It is very important to assess conditions. We do have meetings on what can be done on different surface. It also depends on individuals, how they want to do about playing on a particular pitch. You need to plan according to your strength. And on game day, too much pre planning doesn't help.
"Adaptability is key in this competition. It is not like IPL, where you have seven home and away games. It is a big challenge," he said.
Captain Steven Smith is a crucial cog in Australian line-up and Kohli said it would be important to stop him.
"He is a very important player for Australia. The way their batting unit works, someone like Smith gives them solidarity. It always helps as a batting unit. He is a very good player and world class player and in these scenarios you always want the big players out. That is what we will try to do as well," said Kohli, reiterating that he relishes the challenge of playing against Australia.
Do extreme reactions from the fans bother him, irrespective of the match result, Kohli said: "There is no point speaking about something you have no control on. We want to win the tournament. We are working as hard as possible. Reactions will always be extreme. We don't focus on these things. You need to draw the line of things you absorb and ignore negatives. That is the key at international level.
"It is difficult but that is what helps. You don't think about reaction while facing a cricket ball."
Updated Date: Mar 27, 2016 16:37 PM