As strange as it may sound, Aussie and Indian fans were on the same page during their World Cup clash on Sunday after Virat Kohli's unique yet classy gesture to the crowd that won him equal praises from both the cricketing nations.
Steve Smith and David Warner haven't had the rosiest of receptions from the English crowd ever since their return in the green and golden uniform. The duo has been subjected to constant boos and taunts from the fans in attendance in all their World Cup outings so far as they returned to the side after serving a 12-month ban for their involvement in the ball-tampering scandal last year.
This, however, was against the liking of the Indian skipper Virat Kohli, who on several occasions, gestured to the Indian crowd to stop booing Steve Smith and cheer for him instead.
"I think what's happened has happened long back. The guy is back, trying to play well for his side. Even in the IPL I saw him, it's not good to see a guy feel down. You don't want to see someone feel the heat every time he plays. Just because there are so many Indian fans here, I don't want them to set a bad example. He didn't do anything to be booed in my opinion. I felt for him and told him sorry on behalf of the crowd. In my opinion that's not acceptable," Kohli said in the post-match presentation.
With India fans giving Steve Smith a tough time fielding in the deep, @imVkohli suggested they applaud the Australian instead.Absolute class 👏 #SpiritOfCricket #ViratKohli pic.twitter.com/mmkLoedxjr— ICC (@ICC) June 9, 2019
Kohli's classy gesture didn't go unnoticed at the Oval and social media and despite the two teams being the long-time arch rivals, fans from both the nations united to celebrate the good cause.
"Great gesture and sportsmanship from Kohli, asks Indian fans who were booing Steve Smith at the boundary to applaud and buck him up. Good lad," wrote a Twitter user.
Wow. How good is this from Virat Kohli? Steve Smith is sent to field on the boundary, and immediately cops the most hideous boos from the Indian fans. So Kohli turns to that stand and gestures for them to clap Smith. #CWC19 pic.twitter.com/GBTPaolOXh— Sam Landsberger 🗯 (@SamLandsberger) June 9, 2019
Virat Kohli's asking the Indians in the Oval to applaud Steve Smith is such a great gesture. I have seen many amazing cricketers over the years. Rarely seen someone change his game and his attitude so much over a decade. He is an absolute inspiration!— Joy Bhattacharjya (@joybhattacharj) June 9, 2019
Virat Kohli asked fans to stop chants of "cheater cheater" directed at Steve Smith who was fielding at the boundary. He asked them to clap for him instead. Lovely sportsmanship by King Kohli. 👏👌🙏 #INDvAUS #CWC19 #INDvsAUS pic.twitter.com/M1W6Krr6DG— Sir Jadeja fan (@SirJadeja) June 9, 2019
Great sportsmanship earlier by Virat Kohli which was appreciated by Steve Smith - telling the Indian fans to stop booing Smith when he was fielding on the boundary #INDvAUS #CWC19 pic.twitter.com/fehhWKD0fn— Saj Sadiq (@Saj_PakPassion) June 9, 2019
Pic 1 : virat kohli getting booed and abused in 2012 from aus crowd in SCG Pic 2: virat kohli telling indian crowd to stop booing smith and appreciate him in 2019 Oval England 👏👏#CWC19 #INDvAUS #ViratKohli pic.twitter.com/AHfVSpmMtC— Karan.Gill ☬ (@KaranGill79) June 9, 2019
Kohli ask Indian fans to stop calling "Smith" a cheater. And requested to give him a big applause Absolute class 👏 #SpiritOfCricket #ViratKohli pic.twitter.com/J6rkAQuOrt— Ravishankar VPRM (@ravisha56836868) June 9, 2019
Despite their differences, Aussie fans were quick to salute Indian skipper's sportsmanship - one they hadn't witnessed before.
"Brilliant from the Indian captain. He has matured so much in the past three or four years. He has always been a great cricketer, and now he is a great cricket ambassador. Much respect, and thank you," wrote one commenter on Cricket Australia's Facebook page.
"As they say you mark a champion not by his words but by his actions. And today we witnessed a true champion with his actions & with his words! Well done VK your class showed when you were here over the summer & its continuing. I am an Aussie thru & thru, this is what cricket needed in the world & in Australia. I would love to see the aussie emulate the same sportsmanship like VK showed. Good luck to the Indian cricket team,(sic)" wrote another.
"Mr Kohli. As an avid senior fan of Australia I can not bring to words the joy I had in watching your magnificent act of sportsmanship last night. You are an absolute champion," chimed in third.
Fantastic sportsmanship. Well done Virat Kohli 👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻— Pa Wick (@w1cky2024) June 10, 2019
Hopefully this will teach us a lesson back here in Australia and will put an end to booing for future series, as we move into the Ashes and our Summer of cricket, because it’s not just Indian fans that are persisting with this behaviour.— Genevieve Elliott (@Geness63) June 10, 2019
he has my respect for that— Jos (@josanator6) June 10, 2019