Sydney: Australian media labelled Indian skipper Virat Kohli “classless” and childish on Wednesday after his provocative comments at the end of a hard-fought but incendiary Test series.
Newspapers laid into the winning captain for saying he no longer counted the Australian players as friends, and they also took umbrage at India’s apparent snub when invited to join the tourists for a beer.
Kohli said he would not think of the Australians as friends “ever again” after India sealed a 2-1 victory in a pulsating series marked by flare-ups between the world’s number one and two teams.
“Virat Kohli had to shake hands and move on after series win but he acted like a child,” read a headline in Sydney’s Daily Telegraph, which also called Kohli an “egomaniac”.
“Beergate: Kohli’s latest classless act”, another headline said.
The Australian’s Peter Lalor wrote: “If there were any doubts about the poor spirit between the Indian and Australian sides it was confirmed after the series when the home side shunned a suggestion the two sides drink together.”
Kohli’s behaviour was compared to that of his opposite number Steve Smith, who apologised for calling Murali Vijay a “f***ing cheat” after he claimed a catch when the ball had touched the ground.
“All Virat Kohli had to do was say sorry. Steve Smith did,” wrote Herald Sun journalist Russell Gould.
Kohli has repeatedly been a target of the Australian press during the series, to the extent that former captain Michael Clarke warned the criticism was “getting out of control”.
Kohli initially stepped into the firing line when he accused Smith of systematically abusing the decision review system, after the Aussie captain admitted looking to his team dressing room when considering whether to appeal his dismissal in Bangalore.
– Thirst among equals –
Smith struck a conciliatory tone at the end of the series, revealing that he reached out to India’s stand-in skipper Ajinkya Rahane with the offer of a beer — an invitation that was declined.
“I asked if he wanted us to come in for a drink, this being the end of the series. He said he’d get back to me. With Ajinkya, we get on well,” Smith said of his Indian Premier League (IPL) team-mate.
Despite the fireworks, and their series defeat after an eight-wicket loss in the final Test, it was a positive tour for Australia, just months after they suffered one of the worst runs in their history.
“The boys and the dressing room are hurting,” Smith said in Dharamsala.
“But we have played a good style of cricket over here, we have competed in every Test match, and for that I am really proud of the boys.”
Cricket Australia chairman David Peever paid tribute to Smith, who scored 499 runs as Australia flirted with their first series win in India since 2004, highlighting the captain’s “gracious” demeanour.
“Steve showed yet again what an outstanding leader he is becoming, and his honesty and gracious comments at the end demonstrated the qualities that Australians expect from their Test captain,” Peever said.
“Cricket at this level is highly competitive, and it is incumbent on all involved, players and administrators, to honour the protocols and standards of behaviour that underpin the spirit of cricket,” he added.