Australian media critical of the India captain’s behaviour in ongoing series
The Indian media hit back after an Australian journalist labelled Virat Kohli “the Donald Trump of sport”.
The latest barb saw India’s cricket captain being compared to the controversial President of the United States after he called out his Australian counterpart for trying to seek advice from the dressing room on whether to appeal against an umpiring decision during the ongoing four-match Test series.
Former Australia fast bowler Geoff Lawson joined in the criticism of Kohli when he accused the batsman of acting like “your worst behaved player”.
Leading Indian commentator Harsha Bhogle hit out at the “toxicity” blighting the series between the two countries, calling for both sides to show restraint before the winner-takes-all final game begins on Saturday.
Bhogle fears the glorification of aggressive on-field behaviour by media on both sides and passions boiling over could harm the game’s reputation with the series on a knife-edge at 1-1.
India’s newspapers also fired back with the Hindustan Times accusing Australian media of a relentless “hate campaign” throughout the series.
“Friends in Australia tell me they are perturbed by the toxicity this series has generated. Cricket lovers in India saying so, too,” the veteran television cricket analyst said on Twitter. “If we have to use toxicity and divisiveness to spread our game, we are using a short-term approach that can only be harmful.
“I am particularly perturbed by the fact that some of us in the media are promoting this divisiveness and taking sides to spread ill-will.”
Tensions have been ramped up since Kohli just stopped short of accusing Australia captain Steve Smith of cheating when the latter looked up to the dressing room for guidance over whether to review an lbw decision in the second Test at Bangalore. India won that game to level the series after being beaten at Pune.
The rancour was inflamed in the drawn third Test at Ranchi as Australia batted out Day 5 for a draw and all-rounder Glenn Maxwell was accused of mocking Kohli’s shoulder injury.
The Daily Telegraph newspaper said Kohli was behaving like a bully and accused the Indian cricket board and match officials of letting him get away it.
“Kohli has become the Donald Trump of world sport,” Ben Horne wrote in his column.
“The Indian captain is a law unto himself with no one – not even the ICC [International Cricket Council, the game’s world governing body] or his own board – holding him accountable for his continual perpetuation of fake news.”
Horne was referring to Kohli’s assertion, without offering evidence, that Smith’s act was not a one-off.
The ICC brought Smith and Kohli together for a clear-the-air meeting after that game, where Smith claimed the incident was a “brain fade”.
Former Australia international Lawson, meanwhile, slated Kohli for not displaying enough maturity.
“As a leader and as a captain of a cricket team where you’ve got lots of responsibilities, you’ve got to show more gravitas and responsibility than this,” he told Fox Sports. “These sorts of actions are those of your worst behaved player.”
Bhogle, though, said it was time the media stopped fanning the flames before lasting damage was done to Test cricket.
“A lot of us entered this profession because we love sport and had the opportunity to talk/write about it. We didn’t enter to spread toxicity,” he tweeted.
One Indian cricketer came out in praise of Australia yesterday for proving wrong a host of experts who predicted a whitewash for the home side.
Australia, who had lost five of their past six overseas Tests against South Africa and Sri Lanka, faced the daunting task at the start of the series against an Indian outfit that were unbeaten in 19 consecutive Tests.
Former India off-spinner Harbhajan Singh and captain Sourav Ganguly predicted a series sweep for Kohli’s men but the visitors have fought hard.
“We should give credit to the Australian side which has played remarkably,” Indian opener Gautam Gambhir, who is not involved in the series, told the Hindustan Times. “Most players like Harbhajan and Sourav predicted a whitewash for India, but they have proved themselves brilliantly and with everything on the line, Australia will be a tricky opponent.”
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