Kohli praised for defending Smith from booing crowds

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Virat Kohli gestures during the ICC Cricket World Cup group stage match at The Oval, LondonImage copyright
PA

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Kohli walked towards the Indian crowd and motioned for them to applaud instead of booing Smith

India cricket captain Virat Kohli is winning hearts for his gesture defending Australian player Steve Smith, after he was booed by Indian fans during Sunday’s match.

Kohli, who was batting as Smith fielded in the deep, walked towards the Indian crowd and motioned for them to applaud instead of booing him.

Speaking after the match Kohli said he had also apologised to Smith.

“What has happened is in the past, I felt bad for him,” he said.

“We’ve had issues in the past, we have had arguments on the field. But you don’t want to see a guy feeling that heat every time he goes out to play,” the India captain added.

Smith is back in the Australian side after a year’s suspension for ball-tampering. It is that incident that has provoked crowds into heckling him.

A clip of the on field incident tweeted by the International Cricket Council (ICC) has been retweeted more than 21,000 times.

The incident has caused the hashtag #SpiritOfCricket to trend on Twitter in India with many praising Kohli and hitting out at those who call him “arrogant”. And the praise was not limited to just Indian fans.

Steve Smith has not commented on the incident.

He has had a good World Cup. He scored 69 in Sunday’s match and 73 in his previous game against the West Indies.

The Sydney Morning Herald however, was appreciative. It said that “Kohli, often seen as the villain when playing Australia, demonstrated a show of friendship” in the game but added that it would remain to be seen if Kohli’s message filtered through to the rest of the cricketing world.

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