India skipper Virat Kohli speaking at an event in Mumbai on Wednesday. Photo/ANI

Mumbai (Maharashtra) [India], Jan 15 : India skipper Virat Kohli on Wednesday said that his gesture towards Australia batsman Steve Smith during the ICC 2019 World Cup match was a representation of “who we are as a nation and people”.

Kohli was presented the ICC’s ‘2019 Spirit of Cricket’ award on Wednesday.

During the match, a section of the Indian crowd was seen giving hostile reception to Australia’s Steve Smith, and it was then Kohli turned away to the crowd and asked them to cheer for the Australian instead.

“I just stood up for that. It was not to gain something out of it and also a representation of who we are as people or who we are as a nation,” Kohli told reporters at a car launch event here on Wednesday.

“… I was happy that ICC recognised it but also for the people to realise and remember that our thinking should be right in whatever we do.”

“I think everyone should be given space to realise themselves and who they are. What happened at the moment that I have been awarded for, is very natural. I never planned because I could feel what the individual must be going through after coming back from the time like that. So to take advantage of someone’s emotion for me was not correct,” he added.

Kohli and Smith have been involved in some bitter banter in the past, but the Indian skipper showed his true sportsmanship spirit when he gestured towards a section of the Indian fans to stop booing at the former Australian captain and cheer for him instead.

As India and Australia locked horns at The Oval in London, some Indian fans started booing at Smith and chanted “cheater, cheater.”

Kohli, who was batting at that time, took notice of it and was clearly not happy with the fans’ gestures. Showing his classy side, the Indian captain turned towards the stand and gestured at the fans to cheer for Smith and not boo at him.

Kohli said in his early cricketing days he used to look at “some kind of recognition at the global level” but now he has realised that “it is a matter of respect”.

“I used to look forward to these things when I was young. Some kind of recognition at the global level but now I have started to realise that it is just an appreciation of the work that you do. For me, it is not something that I look forward to or chase. It is a matter of respect, not a matter of gaining some kind of attention or thinking of this as an accolade. When the cricket fraternity looks at you like that for me it is a matter of respect and it matters to me more than numbers and performances,” Kohli concluded.

On Tuesday, India lost the first ODI against Australia by 10 wickets. The teams will now meet in Rajkot on January 17.


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