It was on this day, two years ago, when India skipper Virat Kohli won the hearts of cricketing fans worldwide with his warm gesture towards Steve Smith in the Cricket World Cup. On June 9, 2019, India and Australia clashed against each other in the 50-over World Cup. During the Indian innings, while Smith was fielding at the boundary some fans started booing him and chanting “cheater, cheater”. Kohli, who was batting at that time, was clearly not happy with what was going on. Showing his classy side, the Indian captain turned towards the stand and gestured at the fans to cheer for Smith and not boo at him.
This was appreciated by Smith, who came up to Kohli, shook his hand and patted him on the back during the drinks break.
Kohli’s heartfelt gesture won him plenty of praise on social media and he also got the ICC’s “2019 Spirit of Cricket Award” in 2020.
After the match against Australia ended, Kohli had said: “What happened, happened long back. He’s back, trying to play well for his side. It is not good to see someone down like that. You don’t want to see a guy feeling heat every time he goes out to play.”
“I just felt for him and I told him sorry on behalf of the crowd because I have seen that happen in a few earlier games as well. In my opinion, that’s not acceptable,” he added.
Smith and David Warner were banned for a year in 2018 for their roles in the ball-tampering scandal during a Test match against South Africa. The two players had played in the 2019 IPL and then were selected for the World Cup.
“There are many Indian fans here, I didn’t want them to set a bad example because he (Steve Smith) didn’t do anything to be booed. I felt bad because if I was in a position where something happened and I had apologised, accepted and came back, still I get booed I wouldn’t like it either,” Kohli had said.
India had dished out a clinical performance as they defeated Australia by 36 runs in their second match of the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2019 at The Oval. The Men in Blue had progressed to the semi-finals of the 2019 World Cup, where they lost to New Zealand.
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