Virat Kohli gestured to the fans a couple of times asking them not to Steven Smith © AFP
Virat Kohli said he didn’t want the Indian fans to set a bad example and also apologised to Steven Smith on behalf of the fans after sections of the crowd jeered the former Australian captain while he was fielding in the deep and when he was walking in to bat during the 2019 World Cup match between India and Australia at the Oval in London.
Smith was first booed, with chants of ‘cheater, cheater,’ making the rounds when he was fielding at third man near the Vauxhall end. Hardik Pandya had just been dismissed, and the crowd tried to get under Smith’s skin with the chants. Kohli, who was batting at the time, looked up towards that section of the stadium and gestured to cut it out. He instead made a ‘clap’ gesture and pointed towards Smith. Kohli also did the same when Smith walked past, with both players shaking hands.
The second instance happened as Smith walked out to bat during Australia’s big chase. Another section of the crowd this time booed and started the same chants again. Kohli, who was fielding at mid wicket then, looked up and made a folded hand sign, before asking them to cut it out again.
Smith went on to top score for Australia with 69, but his team fell short by 36 runs.
Speaking about the incident in the post-match press conference, Kohli said he didn’t want the Indian fans to set a bad example by booing Smith.
“There are so many Indian fans here, I just didn’t want them to set a bad example to be honest. He didn’t do anything to be booed, in my opinion. He’s just playing cricket. I mean he’s just standing there and I felt bad because if I was in a position where something had happened with me and I’d apologised and accepted it and I came back and still I get booed, I wouldn’t like it either.
“So I just felt for him and told him ‘sorry for… on behalf of the crowd’. We’ve seen that happen in a few earlier games as well. In my opinion that’s not acceptable.”
Smith, who served out his ban for his role in the sandpaper-gate scandal, has made a return to the Australian team and was subjected to similar treatment from the opposition fans during Australia’s game against Afghanistan. Warner, who was also banned alongside Cameron Bancroft, was also booed in Bristol.
“Look, what’s happened has happened like long back. The guy’s back and and he’s trying to play well for his side. Even in the IPL I saw him, it’s not good to see someone down like that to be honest. We’ve had issues in the past, we’ve had a few arguments on the field, but you don’t want to see a guy feeling that heat every time he’s going out to play. What’s happened has happened and everyone knows that. He’s back, he’s worked hard and he’s playing well for his side,” Kohli added.
Adam Zampa, Australia’s spinner, too courted some controversy with social media sharing images of him digging into his pocket with the ball in his other hand. Aaron Finch, their captain, said he hadn’t seen those images yet, but added that Zampa usually carries hand warmers in his pocket.
Sourced from © Cricbuzz