Virat Kohli gestures to fans to stop booing Steve Smith. Picture: Getty Images
Virat Kohli gestures to fans to stop booing Steve Smith. Picture: Getty Images

Kohli wins award for touching Smith gesture

Virat Kohli admits he was surprised to be given the ICC Spirit of Cricket award for pleading with Indian fans to cheer Steve Smith rather than boo him last year.

Kohli made headlines around the globe during the World Cup when he pointed at fans booing Smith in Australia's game against India, and urged them to clap.

 

 

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The moment was seen as a turning point in the tournament, as India's fans responded in kind and several other supporters of rival nations followed suit.

The Indian captain was rewarded at Wednesday's ICC Awards, where Pat Cummins was also named Test player of the year.

Marnus Labuschagne was also crowned emerging star.

The World Cup episode came after Smith and David Warner had been heckled early in the tournament by fans in their return from the ball-tampering scandal.

Kohli's gesture came despite a chequered past between he and Smith.

They had clashed over Smith's use of the decision review system in 2017, with Kohli even indicating he thought the then-Australian captain was cheating.

 

Virat Kohli gestures to fans to stop booing Steve Smith. Picture: Getty Images
Virat Kohli gestures to fans to stop booing Steve Smith. Picture: Getty Images

 

 

But he said none of that mattered when he'd seen the way Smith and Warner had been treated during the World Cup.

"I'm surprised that I have got it, after many years of being under the scanner for the wrong things," Kohli admitted.

"It is part of camaraderie that sportsmen must have with each other. That moment was purely understanding an individual's situation.

"I don't think a guy who is coming out of a situation like that needs to be taken advantage of.

"You can sledge, can have banter on the field, you say things to the opposition in wanting to beat them.

"But booing someone is not in the spirit of any sport, I don't endorse it."

Neither Smith nor Warner were booed in Tuesday's series-opening ODI between Australia and India in Mumbai, with the latter cheered on making his century.

The game also appeared to be played in good spirit on the pitch, where Australia marched to a 10-wicket walloping of India.

And Kohli stressed that the fans who had booed Smith last year should not be considered the norm for Indian fans.

"Also, that should not be a representation of our fans and what we stand as a cricketing nation, a sporting nation," he said.

"We need to all take responsibility towards that.

"Intimidate the opposition, definitely try and have an upper hand but in a matter that is not targeting someone emotionally.

"That is not acceptable at any level and people should be wary of that."


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