Prolific batter Virat Kohli says the Indian Test team has earned formidable Australia's respect after beating them twice in their own backyard and they are no longer taken lightly in the traditional format.
Putting up a solid show of grit and gumption, India pipped Australia in the 2018-19 and 2020-21 editions of the Border-Gavaskar trophy by a similar 2-1 margin.
"Rivalry was intense in the beginning, the environment was also very tense. But since we have won in Australia twice, the rivalry has turned into respect and we are not taken lightly anymore as a Test team," Kohli told Star Sports.
"We can feel that respect when we play against Australia, that 'they have beaten us twice in our own backyard back-to-back and it will be a battle of equals'." "There used be tension in the air which is not the case now. When you achieve a standing, make your presence felt in the ground no one takes you lightly." The familiar foes are slated to play the World Test Championship final at The Oval starting Wednesday.
The talismanic Indian batter said he is always motivated to do well against Australia as they seldom give opportunities to their opponents to excel.
"I understand that mindset that all 11 players are on the same page and they will look to capitalise on even an inch. So, my motivation increases against this team (Australia) that is so aware and competitive, I have to elevate my game.
"The motivation and drive they have, they won't let you comeback in the game. So I had to take my game to the next level," Kohli said.
The former India skipper reckons the result of the WTC final will boil down to teams adjusting and adapting to the conditions.
Both Australia and India have struggled at The Oval. While Australia have won just seven of their 38 Test matches, India have managed just two victories in 14 games.
"I think The Oval will be challenging, we won't get a flat wicket and batters need to be cautious. We will need to concentrate on our focus and discipline," Kohli said.
"So you need to have the experience to play as per the conditions and we cannot go in with the expectation that The Oval pitch will play as it always has. So we have to adjust and adapt, we have only one match in a neutral venue so whoever adapts better will win the match.
"This is the beauty of the World Test Championship, two neutral teams with no home advantage, so it will be very exciting to see how both teams adapt to the situation." India lost the inaugural edition of the WTC to New Zealand, where they erred by playing with two spinners despite the conditions suiting seamers more.
Playing in seaming conditions is all about balancing between scoring runs and defending the good balls, according to Kohli.
"Toughest part of playing in overcast and seaming conditions in England is understanding and choosing the balls that you need to hit. The balance between scoring runs and playing with a solid technique is very important.
"You can't walk out so much that you are just standing there to get out and you can't be over aggressive either.
"To get that balance right is the only way you can put pressure and it confuses the bowlers that the good ball is being respected and the bad balls are sent away, decision making becomes very crucial in that stage," Kohli added.
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