Kohli's a 'class act' for defending booed Smith

Australia's Steve Smith was booed by a section of the predominantly Indian crowd in their 36-run loss to India, who put up a commanding 352-5, at the Oval last Sunday. PHOTO: REUTERS
Australia's Steve Smith was booed by a section of the predominantly Indian crowd in their 36-run loss to India, who put up a commanding 352-5, at the Oval last Sunday.PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON • Virat Kohli won a match with the bat and hearts with his sportsmanship, after silencing Indian fans who booed Australia's Steve Smith in Sunday's cricket World Cup contest at the Oval.

Smith and teammate David Warner have faced hostile crowds since returning from year-long bans for their roles in a ball-tampering scandal in South Africa early last year.

A section of the predominantly Indian crowd booed Smith when the Australian was stationed at third man and Kohli noticed.

The India captain, who went on to score a typically fluent 82, raised his hand to draw the crowd's attention, gestured for them to clap the Australian instead, and shook his head before resuming batting.

The International Cricket Council shared the video on its Twitter handle, calling it "absolute class".

"I think what's happened has happened long back. The guy is back, he's trying to play well for his side... it's not good to see someone down like that, to be honest," said Kohli.

"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 goes out to play."

Smith's 69 was the highest score in Australia's unsuccessful chase against India, who won the high-scoring contest by 36 runs.

Kohli said he apologised to Smith for the behaviour of the India fans.

"There's so many Indian fans here, I just didn't want them to set a bad example, because he didn't do anything to be booed in my opinion," added Kohli."So I just felt for him, and I told him, 'I'm sorry on behalf of the crowd', because I've seen that happen in a few earlier games as well and in my opinion that's not acceptable."

Kohli's gesture and what he said after the game struck a chord on social media with former Australia coach Darren Lehmann praising the Indian.

"Class act," tweeted Lehmann, who had stepped down as Australia coach in the aftermath of the ball-tampering scandal.

Former England captain Michael Vaughan shared similar sentiments. He posted: "This is class from Kohli.

 REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 11, 2019, with the headline 'Kohli's a 'class act' for defending booed Smith'. Print Edition | Subscribe