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Cricket World Cup 2019: Virat Kohli comes to Steve Smith's defence after India fans jeer Australia batsman

When Smith came out to bat, during a run chase that eventually fell 36 short, he was booed, and also attracted chants of 'Cheater, cheater!'

Virat Kohli, right, and Steve Smith during India's Cricket World Cup match against Australia. AP
Virat Kohli, right, and Steve Smith during India's Cricket World Cup match against Australia. AP

Virat Kohli, the India captain, said he had felt compelled to apologise to Steve Smith for India’s supporters, after the Australia batsman was booed at The Oval.

While he was batting, Kohli had made a point of signalling to supporters to applaud Smith rather than jeer him, and shook his hand after doing so.

The message did not seem to reach all of the fans. When Smith came out to bat, during a run chase that eventually fell 36 short, he was booed, and also faced chants of “Cheater, cheater!”

“I feel what happened happened a long time back,” Kohli said, in reference to Smith’s role in the ball-tampering furore last year, for which he was hit with a one year ban.

“The guy is back. He is trying to play well for his side, even in the IPL. It is not good to see someone down like that, to be honest.

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

“What’s happened has happened. Everyone knows he has come back and worked hard.

“Because there were so many Indian fans here, I didn’t want them to set a bad example. He didn’t do anything to be booed, in my opinion.

“He was just playing cricket. He was just standing there, and I felt bad because, if I was in a position where I had apologised, I had accepted it, came back, and was still booed, I wouldn’t like it either.

“I felt bad for him, and I said I was sorry on behalf of the crowd.”

India’s supporters made up the vast majority inside the ground during the World Cup fixture, but Australia’s captain Aaron Finch insisted it made for a good atmosphere.

“India have amazing support everywhere they go everywhere around the world,” Finch said. “Their fans are very vocal. They're great to play in front of because they provide so much atmosphere.

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“They're passionate about the game. And being on the other side of it, it's not ideal, but at the end of the day, no matter where you play, you can play in Melbourne, you can play in Hobart, they're always going to outnumber you.

“They are so loud, and they're a happy crowd. They appreciate good cricket. Obviously they're there to watch India do well, but they appreciate really good cricket, and when they're playing their music and chants are going up, it's a pretty great atmosphere to be a part of – when you win.”

Updated: June 10, 2019 11:21 AM

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