BRISBANE: India captain Virat Kohli on Tuesday said his team has never been the one to start "anything" but will stand up for itself if the line is crossed by the opposition, while talking about aggression ahead of the much-anticipated Australia tour's opening game.
India and Australia will clash in the first T20 International of the three-match series at the Gabba on Wednesday.
"Aggression depends on how the situation is on field. If the opposition is aggressive towards you then you counter it. India is not a team that starts anything but we always draw a line of self-respect. If that line is crossed we stand up to that," Kohli said.
"Aggression also means that within team how possessive you are to that situation and as a team how much effort you are putting in for each wicket. You can see that in body language, when bowlers bowl and how long they can keep hitting the same area. Batsmen can be aggressive without saying anything."
Australian pacer Pate Cummins on Sunday refused to buy Kohli's self-appraisal that he is no longer the one looking for confrontations.
"For me aggression is playing to win and an obsession that I should win every ball for my team. Everyone has a different meaning but for me it means to win the game at any costs and give 120 per cent for my team, whether I am fielding or even clapping for someone while sitting on the bench, or batting, or running between wickets," he added.
Ahead of a long summer of cricket, India will start as favourites against a weakened Australian side that is missing Steve Smith and David Warner desperately. An appeal to reduce their bans was turned down by Cricket Australia on Tuesday morning.
Kohli said that he expected Australia to challenge on their home soil nevertheless.
"We all saw what happened. I don't know exactly what happened before those decisions were taken, but someone in Cricket Australia did make those decisions and honestly it is not my place to comment on it.
"Missing out on two of their best batsmen is not an ideal thing for any team. There is no denying the quality they have in their sides and still have world-class cricketers.
"This Australian team still has the quality to make an impact despite missing their two best batsmen. We will have to be at our best to beat Australia in Australia," he said.
When asked about the kind of atmosphere he is expecting, the skipper said his team will not take anything for granted "regardless of any situation".
"You can never underestimate any side, and we have come here to compete against the whole Australian team. We haven't played Australia after everything that has happened so I cannot really say what the atmosphere is going to be on the ground like.
"We are not thinking about this is the last opportunity to win here. I don't think that's the right mind set to have. Our limited overs form has been good so we want to continue that..."
"We don't want to be a team that wins odd Tests here or there."
India have won their last seven T20I series, while Australia are yet to beat an opponent of note in this format since the ball-tampering scandal.
"We definitely have a strong side, and I don't think there is any side in world cricket that does not have any weaknesses. We are striving to figure out what we need to keep working on and take our quality of cricket up. And if we are playing at our best possible level then try to maintain it for as long as possible.
"Those dynamics have allowed us to play the cricket that we are and hopefully we keep building on to that and maintaining our level," said Kohli.
The skipper said that Bhuvneswar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah have played a vital role in India's limited-overs' ascension in the last couple years, and outlined that the duo will play as many games as possible before the 2019 ODI World Cup.
"They are thinking bowlers, understand the situation and get a gut feel of what the batsmen are looking to do before bowling. And the ability to predict what is going to happen on each ball is what keeps them ahead of the batsmen most of the times.
"Sometimes they will get dominated like everyone does but I think 85-90 per cent of the time they are spot on because they are always looking how the game is going, how the batsmen are batting, what areas they are hitting at. That's been their strength."
He said he has been "lucky" to have them both at his disposal.
"Any captain would love to have them both in their attack and I have been lucky to have them both bowling so well for the team, giving those breakthroughs and in the difficult situations of death overs executing what we want them to.
"From now on it will be difficult for others to step in unless there is a workload issue. Till the World Cup we want our eleven that is going to play together to play as long as possible because there are not many games left."
Kohli said his team made some "radical mistakes" during the disappointing tour of England and will look to ensure they are not repeated in the assignment against Australia.
Reflecting on the performance in England, Kohli said, "Our mistakes in England were very radical. The quality of cricket was very high but our mistakes were as radical and that's why we lost the games."
The skipper, however, did not specify the exact nature of the "radical mistakes" that he was referring to. The only Test that India won in England was the one in Nottingham and Kohli said it was down to the fewer mistakes.
"So at times we have the ability to compete with the other team at par and in Test cricket whichever team makes lesser mistakes wins the game, that's the general rule," he added.
The explosive batsman said that India would look to show themselves to be better at dealing with setbacks during the Australia series.
"...we are focussing on cutting down our mistakes, and if a situation goes bad for us, then how to plug that situation as soon as possible and also come out of that situation as a team.
"We played good exciting cricket last time but we didn't win games, we definitely want to change that and definitely every team should be looking to win Tests and series as a whole, and we believe that we have the quality to do so.
"But it will boil down to how we think in each match and moments in every game on this tour," he added.
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