Former star cricketer Shoaib Akhtar has come to Indian skipper Virat Kohli’s defence, saying that aggression has been a part and parcel of competitive cricket.
Kohli has come under criticism for his sledging and heated exchanges with his Australian counterpart Tim Paine during the tense second Test in Perth, which at one point needed the umpire to intervene.
It was reported that Kohli belittled Paine as just “a stand-in captain”, although India’s team management angrily denied he said it.
“Virat Kohli is one of the modern greats of the game. Aggression has been a part and parcel of competitive cricket, especially when you are playing Down Under as long as it stays in limit. Please cut him some slack,” Akhtar tweeted.
The “Rawalpindi Express” is no stranger to controversy. During the inaugural edition of the T20 World Cup in 2007, Akhtar was sent back from South Africa for assaulting team-mate Mohammad Asif with a bat in the dressing room.
But Akhtar is not the first cricketer to come to Kohli’s defence.
Former Australia captain Allan Border also said his antics might be over the top but the game needs characters who show passion.
“I haven’t seen anyone sort of carry on so much as a captain when his side takes a wicket,” he said in a Fox Sports podcast Thursday. “It’s really over the top but it’s good in a way. You can see some passion about what he’s trying to do.
However, after the game, which Australia won by 146 runs to the level the series 1-1, both Paine and Kohli attempted to play down their on-field sledging, which was often picked up by stump microphones.
Kohli described it as simply banter that was part and parcel of Test match cricket.
“As long as there is no swearing the line doesn’t get crossed. And no personal attacks,” he said.