India’s victory against Australia in their World Cup match at The Oval on Sunday will be remembered for the clinical performance by the Indian team on way to a 36-run victory, but also for the display of sportsmanship by India skipper Virat Kohli in asking Indian fans not to boo Australia skipper Steve Smith.
During Kohli’s innings, former Australia captain Smith, who was fielding near the boundary, was subject to boos by a section of Indian fans. Kohli was seen signaling to the crowd during a break between overs to stop booing Smith and to cheer for him instead.
Speaking at the press conference after the match, Kohli explained why he came to Smith’s defence.
“I think what has happened has happened. The guy is back and he is 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 have had issues in the past, we have had a few arguments on the field. But you don’t want to see a guy feeling that every time he goes out to play,” he said.
Speaking about the moment when he signaled to the crowd, Kohli said, “Just because there are so many Indian fans here, I didn’t want them to set a bad example. He didn’t do anything to be booed in my opinion. He is just playing cricket. He was just standing there, I felt bad because if I was in a position where something has happened with me and I had apologized and accepted it, and I came back and I still would get booed, I would not like it either.”
“So, I just felt for him and told him sorry on behalf of the crowd and because I have seen that happen in earlier games as well, and in my opinion, that’s not acceptable,” Kohli added.
Kohli’s reaction has been appreciated by fans across the globe. The twitter handle of ICC termed it as a ‘heartwarming gesture’.
A fan tweeted: “Virat Kohli, you have my respect, with your skill and your humanity.”
Another user tweeted: “There are no rules @imVkohli but only consequences.@stevesmith49 is facing his consequences. So cool and don’t feel sorry ?? #bringworldcup2019”
India registered their third world Cup victory against Australia on Sunday. Riding on the clinical performances of Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Hardik Pandya, Shikhar Dhawan and Virat Kohli, they posted a total of 352 on the board.