In what was a great gesture of sportsmanship, Indian skipper Virat Kohli apologised to tainted Australian cricketer Steve Smith, during the India vs Australia ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 game at the Oval Cricket Ground in London on Sunday. Smith, making his return to international cricket after serving a year ban for his role in masterminding the ball tampering scandal against South Africa, was constantly jeered and booed with “cheater, cheater” chants by the Indian fans in the stadium. Virat Kohli Wins Hearts, Asks Fans to Stop Jeering 'Cheater' Steve Smith And Cheer Him During IND vs AUS CWC 2019 Game (Watch Video).
“I'm sorry,” said Kohli to Smith on behalf of the Indian crowd after the Indian crowd kept on booing Smith during his time at the field both while fielding and batting during the IND vs AUS match. The Indian captain also reiterated that he didn’t want the Indian fans to set a bad example by jeering a player for his past mistake even when he has admitted the mistake, served the punishment and made a comeback to cricket. India beat Australia by 36 runs to maintain their all-win record at CWC19.
Virat Kohli Speaks In Support of Steve Smith At the Post-Match Conference:
— BCCI (@BCCI) June 9, 2019
“He's just playing cricket. He was just standing there, and I felt bad because if I was in a position where something had happened with me and I had apologised, I accepted it and I came back and still I would get booed, I wouldn't like it, either. 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," the 30-year-old was quoted as saying by news agency IANS at the post-match conference.
"Just because there are so many Indian fans here, I just didn't want them to set a bad example, to be honest, because he didn't do anything to be booed in my opinion," he added.
Kohli, the number one ranked ODI batsman, also said that he had seen Smith being booed even during the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2019 matches and couldn’t accept it.
"Look, I think what's happened has happened like long back, the guy is back, 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 goes out to play.”
Watch The Incident Here:
With India fans giving Steve Smith a tough time fielding in the deep, @imVkohli suggested they applaud the Australian instead.
— ICC (@ICC) June 9, 2019
The right-handed batsman spoke in support of Smith and stated that one should allow the cricketer to play because he’s worked hard to make a comeback. “What's happened has happened. Everyone has known that. He's come back. He's worked hard. He's playing well for his side now.”
Smith was fielding at third man when the incident first occurred. Hardik Pandya had just been dismissed and the crowd tried to get under his skin with chants of “cheater cheater” echoing throughout the stadium. But Kohli, who was batting alongside Shikhar Dhawan when the incident occurred, took notice of the matter and in a sweet gesture asked the crowd to stop booing the Australian cricketer and rather “clap” and cheer him up. The 30-year-old regarded one of the best batsmen of this generation, lifted up his hands towards the crowd and asked them to calm down and stop jeering Smith before gesturing to them to “clap” for his contemporary.
Both the players also shook hands with Smith hugging Kohli for standing up for him. Smith was later booed when he stepped out to bat during the Australian innings. And Kohli was seen disappointed again. This time the Indian captain folded his hands and asked the fans to cut out the chants.
India posted a mammoth 353 on board after opting to bat first. Opener Shikhar Dhawan made a century, while Rohit Sharma and Kohli chipped in with half-century scores. In reply, Australia bundled for 316 to hand India a 36-run victory. India jumped to third in the point standings with successive victories from two matches.