Mitchell Starc plays down animosity between Virat Kohli and Australia
Mitchell Starc vs Virat Kohli has all the makings to be the rivalry of the series. (Getty Image)

Flashback to 2017. India had defeated Australia and recaptured the Border-Gavaskar Trophy after an animosity-filled four Tests, and after securing a 2-1 series win, India captain Virat Kohli had said that his relationship with some Australia players had ‘changed’, contrary to his claims of a friendly rivalry prior to the start of the series.

Even now, before India s departure for the tour Down Under, Kohli had reaffirmed that he will not be the one to start a duel but won t hold back if the opposition fires the first shot. But as the platform continues to build for what many expect to be a ‘chirpy’ series, Mitchell Starc, however, feels things have changed since last year and that there no longer exists any animosity from Kohli towards Australia and vice-versa.

Kohli vs Starc is one rivalry the cricketing world will have its eyes on, and the pacer, who is expected to lead Australia s attack during the gruelling four-Test series, feels he isn t one of the players whose equation with the India captain was damaged.

“I don’t get that feeling at all,” Starc told cricket.com.au. “We had some good battles on the field through that series, all in good fun and had a few laughs about it and caught up after one of the Test matches. If that’s the case, so be it. But I’m sure I’ll have a few chats with him over this series and share a laugh and chat about the series once it’s done.”

Starc and Kohli have shared the dressing room during the IPL for Royal Challengers Bangalore and the Australia pacer produced Kohli in a completely different light off the field in comparison to how he conducts himself on it.

“I got to know him a fair bit off the field and I think probably know him a bit better than some of my Australian teammates,” he said. “(They) obviously only see them on the cricket field and the general public see what a competitor he is and how much he loves the challenge of performing home and away and to be one of the best players in the world.

“I’ve got to see a bit off the field, where he’s very different. (He’s) such a nice guy off the field, he’s got a lot of time for everyone and just loves to be part of the boys, whether its playing FIFA or being around the team room. I guess in a similar way to perhaps myself and some of the others, there’s a bit of white-line fever there when you get on the cricket field and you just want to perform your best for your country.”

The Starc-Kohli rivalry will have to wait, for the fast bowler is not part of Australia s T20 squad for the three-match series starting Wednesday. But rest assured, the contest will be a sight to behold once the two teams face each other in the first Test starting in Adelaide on December 6.