As Virat Kohli continued to attract unwanted attention from the Australian media, his fellow team-mate Cheteshwar Pujara has come out in support of the Indian skipper by describing him as a great ambassador of the game.
Emotions flared once again between Kohli and Steve Smith after the Australian skipper tried seeking a clue from the dressing room for a DRS call after his dismissal on Day Four of the second Test at the M. Chinnawamy Stadium.
The incident took place in the 21st over of Australia’s second innings when Smith was trapped LBW by pacer Umesh Yadav, a delivery that went underground and struck the former just above his left boot in front of middle stump.
Having already blown a DRS call, involving David Warner, the Australians were in a fix on whether to seek another for Smith.
The Australian skipper first turned to non-striker Peter Handscomb’s end to discuss the merit of reviewing umpire Nigel Llong’s decision but were quickly denied a referral when the latter spotted both batsmen looking in the direction of the dressing room.
In the post match press conference, Kohli stopped short of calling Australia ‘cheat’ before saying he himself saw players of the visiting team looking up to the dressing room and asking for confirmation whether they should take the DRS or not.
A major section of the Australian media has repeatedly attacked Kohli after the incident, most recently calling him the “Donald Trump of the sporting world”.
Meanwhile, Cricket Australia’s chief executive James Sutherland also took a cheeky dig at Kohli and said that he is not sure whether the Indian skipper knows how to spell the word “sorry”.
The 29-year-old Indian batsman said it is sad to hear such comments from the media, but added that his side are looking forward to the next game rather than worrying about anything else.
“I think it is really sad to hear such comments. We fully support Virat (Kohli) and he is one of the great ambassadors of this game. I think the focus has shifted somewhere else which shouldn’t have happened. We are very much focused on the game and he is a great leader and he is a great ambassador for the game. So we are fully supporting him and we are looking forward to the next game rather than worrying about anything else,” Pujara said before the training session on Thursday.
Meanwhile, Pujara has been at his menacing best in the recent times. Since September last year, he has notched up seven half-centuries and four hundreds in 21 innings. He has become India’s go-to man for a crisis.
In a drawn second Test in Bengaluru, Pujara (202) scored his third double century and shared a crucial 199-run seventh-wicket stand with Saha (117), who also dominated the Australian bowlers and smashed his third century. The duo ensured that India declare at 603/9 and take a healthy first inning-lead of 152 runs.
Pujara has become India’s go-to man for a crisis and he believes that when he is in the middle of a long innings, he could easily attain zen like calm.
“I am in that zone where I know what I have to do, how to focus, how to switch off and how to switch back again. So, I think, I would still reiterate that it is the experience, I have been doing this in domestic cricket for a longer period of time which is helping me now,”he added.
The four-match series is currently levelled at 1-1. The two sides will now head into the crucial fourth Test, beginning Saturday in Dharamsala.