Virat Kohli made a classy gesture when Indian fans were booing and insulting Steve Smith during India’s clash with Australia in the ongoing World Cup at the Oval in London on Sunday.
During India’s innings, just after Hardik Pandya got out and Mahendra Singh Dhoni was about to enter the ground, Smith was sent to field at the deep near the boundary line at the Vauxhall end. It was then when the Indian contingent present in the stands started booing Smith and calling him a cheater.
Sensing Smith’s discomfort at the boundary, Kohli gestured the crowd to stop booing the former Australia captain and instead cheer him. The booing stopped immediately.
Chasing India’s score of 352/5, Smith scored 69 but could not prevent the Men in Blue from winning by 36 runs.
“I think what happened was long back (Smith’s ball-tampering incident). He’s back now, he’s trying to play well for his side,” Kohli said at the post-match press conference.
“It’s not good to see somehow down like that, you don’t want to see a guy having that every time he plays.
“He’s come back, worked hard and playing well. There was so many Indian fans here and I didn’t want them to set a bad example. He doesn’t deserve to be booed, he was just standing there.
“I wouldn’t like that so I felt for him and I told him “sorry” on behalf of the crowd. I’ve seen it happen earlier in the tournament and I don’t think it’s acceptable.”
The India captain made 82 and Rohit Sharma 57 but the stand-out innings was produced by opener Shikhar Dhawan, who hit 16 boundaries in his 109-ball 117. Those three players set the platform for a late assault – led by Hardik Pandya and MS Dhoni – and India posted 352-5 after Kohli won the toss and elected to bat first.
Smith, David Warner and Alex Carey then hit half-centuries for Australia but the total proved beyond their reach as they fell comfortably short.
On his team’s performance, Kohli said: “A top, top win for us. After losing that series in India (to Australia), we had a point to prove and to beat this side which has been playing really good cricket in recent games.
“We just came here with intent, right from ball one when we were batting. I thought the opening partnership was outstanding, I got a few runs, Hardik the way he played and MS too.
“It was the absolute perfect game for us and with the ball as well, it was was an absolutely brilliant start on a wicket that was a bit flat, to be honest.
“We were very professional again and that always pleases you as a captain.”