The possibility of losing lucrative Indian Premier League deals kept Australian cricketers from engaging in verbal banter with Virat Kohli, according to former Australia skipper Michael Clarke.
Making a damning indictment on Australia's perceived lack of aggression in recent times, Clarke believes his team was "too scared" to play their natural game against India, who command immense influence in the cricketing world.
"Everybody knows how powerful India are in regards to the financial part of the game, internationally or domestically with the IPL," Clarke said on Sky Racing television.
"I feel that Australian cricket, and probably every other team over a little period, went the opposite and actually sucked up to India."
"They were too scared to sledge Kohli or the other Indian players," he added.
Clarke, who retired from international cricket in 2015, made these statements in the context of Australia's 2018 Test series loss to India at home, which notably did not feature the suspended duo of David Warner and Steve Smith.
Contrastingly, passions often flared and verbal sparring on the pitch took place during India's previous Test trip to Australia in 2014/15 under Clarke's tenure as the Aussie captain.
"The players were like: 'I'm not going to sledge Kohli, I want him to pick me for Bangalore so I can make my $1 million for my six weeks'.
"I feel like that's where Australia went through that little phase where our cricket become a little bit softer or not as hard as we're accustomed to seeing."
Australian players figure among the more popular picks in the IPL with star speedster Pat Cummins emerging as the most expensive overseas buy in the history of the tournament in the auction held last year.
Similarly, the likes of Glenn Maxwell, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Marcus Stoinis and Aaron Finch also fetched exorbitant prices at the auction.
Clarke himself has been involved in the IPL when he turned out for the now-defunct Pune Warriors in 2012.
The league is considered to be a huge revenue earner for the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and is estimated to pump several billion dollars into the country's GDP.