Back in 2019, an on-field moment involving Indian skipper Virat Kohli and Australian batsman Steve Smith won hearts around the world. Nearly two years later, the duo has finally opened up about the incident.
It took place during a World Cup 2019 game between India and Australia. Steve Smith was just coming off a year-long ban from all forms of cricket after the infamous sandpaper incident. Indian fans took the hint from the English crowds and began to taunt and boo the Australian.
Between overs, Virat Kohli, who was batting at that moment, walked toward the hecklers and tried to grab their attention. He asked them to applaud Steve Smith instead. The duo was then seen shaking hands during the break.
Virat Kohli was later awarded the ICC Spirit of Cricket for 2019 for his gesture. The Indian skipper is also nominated for the ICC Spirit of Cricket Award of the Decade.
In an informal chat organized by Cricket Australia and BCCI, Steve Smith revealed that he had sent a text message to Kohli, thanking him for the gesture. Virat Kohli said Smith had paid enough price for his mistake by then. He added that personal jibes are not fair and that his reaction was 'instinctive.'
“Things happen on the field and you have your moments against opposition you play... to me there was an incident that happened and you guys realised what had happened, you came back after a long time after going through everything you had to,” Virat Kohli said.
Virat Kohli added:
“I feel in life nothing can be that permanent that you carry that for life. People make mistakes and they learn from it. It’s not fair to target an individual personally, that’s what I felt at that moment and I asked them not to boo you. It was just instinctive."
"You don't want it to be nasty" - Virat Kohli
Virat Kohli's rivalry against Steve Smith was a popular topic of discussion at that time. More so because of some heated press-conferences during the last few Test series between the two sides. However, this gesture showed the maturity Virat Kohli had developed after his rebellious streak, early on in his career.
Kohli tried to draw a line between being competitive and 'nasty.' In the chat, he added:
"As much as you play against each other there’s a human side as well. There are always instances you’re going to keep meeting as individuals. You’re competitive on the field but you don’t want it to be nasty.”
Virat Kohli and Steve Smith will meet again when India and Australia lock horns in the historic pink-ball Test starting on December 17th in Adelaide.Published 16 Dec 2020, 20:42 IST