Kohli’s classy Smith gesture silences savage fans
Virat Kohli has sledged Indian fans over their "unacceptable" treatment of Steve Smith with the rival captain pleading for World Cup crowds to treat the maligned batsman with respect.
Smith was loudly booed as he jogged towards the boundary to field at third man and a chant of "cheater, cheater, cheater" echoed around The Oval in London yesterday.
Kohli, who was on his way to a crisp 82 (77) at the time, waved to the Indian faithful seated in the Vauxhall Stand to grab their attention after the next ball.
Kohli then gestured to the fans to instead applaud Smith, before turning around and shaking his head in disappointment.
Kohli then embraced Smith in a brilliant display of sportsmanship between two of the sport's fiercest rivals.
The Indian faithful responded to Kohli's gesture by chanting, "Kohli, Kohli, Kohli" but they failed to heed his advice as the boos continued when Smith batted in Australia's innings.
"He didn't do anything to be booed in my opinion," Kohli said.
"Because there's so many Indian fans here, I just didn't want them to set a bad example. 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."
Kohli noted that he and Smith have had "issues" in the past and on-field arguments but that he still wanted the former Australian captain to be forgiven by the public over his involvement in the ball-tampering saga.
"Look, I think what's happened has happened a long back," Kohli said.
"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.
"You don't want to see a guy feeling that heat every time he goes out to play. 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."
Marcus Stoinis described Kohli, who he plays IPL with and has been friends with for 12 years, as a "great bloke" last week while Glenn Maxwell wasn't surprised by Kohli's kindness.
"As individuals we do get along with (Kohli) really well off the field. What happens on the field … all we want to do is play our cricket hard, and he does that.
"He gets in opposition faces and that's great, but I'm not surprised by that."
Smith has been booed in every World Cup match and even had his century in last month's warm-up match against England met with a hostile reception.