Australia’s cricket stars no longer friends, Virat Kohli says after India win Test series in Dharamshala

India captain tucks into Australia after world's No 1 Test team seize back Border-Gavaskar trophy from opponents.

India captain Virat Kohli receives the ICC Test Mace from former cricket player Sunil Gavaskar at Dharamshala on Tuesday. Adnan Abidi / Reuters
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Day 4

Australia 300 & 137

India 332 and 106-2

India win match by 8 wickets and series 2-1

DHARAMSHALA // India captain Virat Kohli said he no longer considered Australia cricketers as friends after winning a tense Test series marked by bad blood on Tuesday.

Kohli, who remarked before the series that he was “really good friends” with some Australia players, said things had changed during the bitter contest between the world’s top two sides.

“I thought that was the case but it has changed for sure. As I said in the heat of the battle, you want to be competitive but yeah I have been proven wrong,” he said. “The thing I said before the first Test [about being friends], I have certainly been proven wrong, and you won’t hear me say that ever again.”

Kohli, 28, caused a furore in the second Test after accusing his counterpart Steven Smith of repeatedly abusing the decision review system.

Critics questioned Kohli’s conduct under pressure, and also his form in the series, with the right-hander scoring just 46 runs from five innings.

Tensions were exacerbated after the India captain was dubbed “the Donald Trump of sport” in an Australian newspaper, and former Test bowler Geoff Lawson accused him of acting like “your worst behaved player”.

A combative Kohli hit back at his critics, inviting his detractors to say or write what they feel about him.

“A very wise person told me that when a person is down, the weak come out to speak about him. It takes courage to talk about someone when they are on top,” he said.

“It is fine, I was targeted individually, and I haven’t done well in this series so opportunities galore for everyone to come out and speak about me which is fine.

“...[it is] very easy to sit at home and write a blog or speak behind a mic, I think that’s easier than coming out and competing in the field.”

The rancour between the sides was inflamed in the drawn third Test in Ranchi when Glenn Maxwell was pictured mocking Kohli’s shoulder injury.

The animosity then spilled over into the series-decider with Ravindra Jadeja and Australia wicketkeeper Matthew Wade engaging in a verbal fight on Monday that was caught by stump microphones.

The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) posted the footage, complete with stump microphone recordings, on its website and social media channels.

India’s Murali Vijay then found himself at the centre of a fresh controversy after claiming a catch that replays showed had spilled on to the grass.

Television footage caught Smith fuming angrily in the dressing room and appearing to call Vijay a “cheat”.

Smith apologised for his outburst but expressed disappointment that the on-field spat between Wade and Jadeja was made public by the BCCI.

“I have been pretty intense throughout this series. I really wanted to do well for the team. At times I have been in my own bubble and have let my emotions slip. I apologise for that,” Smith said.

“I was a little bit disappointed that the BCCI sieved through the archive to find a conversation out on the field that was happening between Matty [Wade] and Jadeja.

“It’s happened between both sides throughout this series, so the fact they’ve done that to us is a little bit disappointing.

“Usually what’s said on the field should stay on the field.”


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Rahane’s statement with the bat

India underlined their status as the world’s No 1 side with their win on Tuesday.

Chasing 106 on the penultimate day of the fourth Test, opener Lokesh Rahul hit 51 not out as India seized back the Border-Gavaskar trophy from Australia.

India’s stand-in captain Ajinkya Rahane (38 not out) hit two sixes in a row off Pat Cummins en route to the comprehensive win, as fans waved giant India flags and danced in the stands.

India have now won seven Test series win in a row, a run that kicked off with their triumph in Sri Lanka in 2015, and includes victories over New Zealand, England and Bangladesh in an extended home season.

Captain Virat Kohli, who was forced to sit out the final Test with a shoulder injury, said the hard-fought win over Australia was the most satisfying of the recent run.

“Unbelievable. This is the best series win so far,” said Kohli, who received the Test mace on behalf of India for ending the season as the world’s top side.

“The way the Australian team gave us a fight was really amazing, but the way the guys kept bouncing back showed the true character of the side.”

Australia captain Steve Smith apologised for letting emotion get the better of him. On Monday, footage indicated he called Murali Vijay a “cheat” for wrongly claiming a catch on Monday.

“I have been pretty intense throughout this series. I really wanted to do well for the team. At times I have been in my own bubble and have let my emotions slip. I apologise for that,” Smith said.

It was one of several incidents during the bad-tempered series, including Kohli accusing Smith of systematically abusing the decision review system during the second Bangalore Test.

In the first Test played in Dharamshala, India scored 332 in their first innings in reply to Australia’s 300, before the tourists collapsed for just 137 on the third day.

On Day 4, India lost Vijay to fast bowler Cummins and Cheteshwar Pujara to a run out, but they were the only scares for the hosts who reached their target in less than 24 overs.

India owed their win to all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja, who top-scored with 63 runs in the first innings before taking three wickets with his left-arm spin during Australia’s second knock – and was duly named man of the match and man of the series.

“The way the guys handled situations and the way Ajinkya led was outstanding. But the maturity and the responsibility shown by all the guys in the team was pleasing to see, especially from the outside,” Kohli said.

The contest will also be remembered for the form of Aussie captain Smith, who amassed 499 runs with three centuries, becoming only the sixth visiting batsman to hit as many tons.

Kohli, who was disparagingly compared to US President Donald Trump as he came under fire from Australian media, had a series to forget, scoring only 46 in the first three Tests.

* Agence France-Presse

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