New Delhi: Beleaguered captain Steve Smith on Thursday said he was not sure if he was one of the “couple of individuals” from the Australian team who Virat Kohli did not want to be friends with, his expression belying the unease in the aftermath of an acrimonious Test series.
At the end of one of the most bitterly-fought but intense Test series in recent times, Kohli had stated that he would no longer be friends with Australian cricketers, only to insist two days later that his comment was blown out of proportion.
“My answer at the post match conference has been blown way out of proportion. I did not categorically say the whole Australian team but….,” read Kohli’s first tweet.
“Only a couple of individuals. I continue to be in good terms with the few guys I know & who I’ve played with at RCB & that doesn’t change,” he wrote in his second tweet. When told about Kohli’s clarification, Smith, who will be leading Rising Pune Supergiant in the 10th edition of the IPL starting April 5, said, “That is for Virat to answer. I don’t know if I am one of those couple of players Virat was hinting at in his tweet today.”
“For me the series is done and dusted and India have outplayed us. I am now ready to lead a new bunch of team at the Pune Supergiant.” Supergiant’s new skipper Smith was in the capital alongside Ajinkya Rahane and the IPL team’s new signing Ben Stokes. The 2017 Border-Gavaskar Test series has turned out to be one of the lowest points in relations between the Indian and Australian cricket teams, with players from both sides not holding themselves back from having a go at each other.
At the post match media conference on Tuesday after India beat Australia in the deciding Test in Dharamsala, Kohli had said he does not consider Australian cricketers as his friends anymore. When asked by an Australian scribe about friendship with the cricketers from Down Under, Kohli gave a no-holds-barred response.
“No, it has changed for sure. 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. The thing I said before the first Test, I have certainly been proven wrong and you won’t hear me say that ever again.”
Meanwhile, India’s stand-in skipper for the Dharamsala Test, Rahane said he could not accept the invitation for beers with the Australians as he was busy celebrating with his own teammates in the Indian dressing room. “We had our own celebrations together in our dressing rooms and I was busy there. It was a very well-fought series and we had to enjoy after long and successful season,” Rahane said.
Asked about their contrasting styles while leading the side, Rahane said, “I am calm and cool, and that brings the best out of me, while Virat is aggressive and that brings the best out of him.”
“Virat is a great leader, a great ambassador of the game. He has done so well for the country.” Like Smith, Rahane too said that it was time to leave the Test series behind and look ahead to the Indian Premier League.
“It was a well -fought series and we all played good cricket. Credit goes to the Australia for the way they played. But I believe in staying in the present. My focus is on the IPL now.