Adelaide: Young middle-order batsman Virat Kohli, who struck his maiden Test century Thursday, blasted the Australian team for their over-indulgence in sledging and also the local fans for disrespecting the Indian cricketers.
Kohli said Australians were frustrated at not getting a wicket for long after they had reduced India to 111 for five. Kohli (116) and Wriddhiman Saha (35) resurrected the innings with their 114-run stand before India’s first innings folded up for 272.
“They (players) sledge when they get frustrated. Obviously, it was hot out there. Constantly they were sledging the players so that they could spoil their concentration. During that partnership (between him and Wriddhiman Saha) they were really, really having a go,” said Kohli, who also became the first Indian on this tour to get the three-figure mark.
Asked about his heated exchange with Ben Hilfenhaus after he survived a run out, Kohli said: “Hilfenhaus said something to me which was quite unnecessary. It was out of the blue. He wasn’t even bowling. I had just survived a run-out on 99. He said something to me which I can’t say in press conference. I gave it back to him, (I said) you didn’t have to do anything, why would you do it.”
Kohli had to be pulled away by former Australian captain Ricky Ponting before things turned ugly.
“Ishant and I both came together and started saying, got stuck to them and he got really pissed (off). I usually play my cricket like that and I like to give it back. At the end of the day, I was pretty happy with what I did. He (Ponting) told me not to give it back or I would get in trouble. He was pretty much a help with that,” Kohli said.
Kohli also said that it was not right to criticise India’s batting greats Rahul Dravid, Virender Sehwag and V.V.S. Laxman for poor performances in just five-six Tests.
“You don’t just curse the legends of the game for (performances in) five, six Test matches,” said Kohli, whose ton came in his eighth Test match. “What about the 100, 80 Test matches that came before this’”
“The criticism and the praise … shouldn’t be like you make them kings and then treat them like total failures if they don’t do well. It’s not fair,” he said.
Kohli said it was not time to press the panic button.
“We are not panicking about it – I don’t know why people are. This is cricket – it happens sometimes. It’s the first time they have come to Australia and not performed. I don’t know why everyone is forgetting the past 15, 20 years where they have done really, really well against Australia in Australia,” he said.
Kohli revealed that after the Sydney Test his confidence had touched rock bottom. In Sydney, he was also fined half his match fee for giving a one-fingered gesture to the SCG crowd.
“After Sydney, it was very bad, my mental thinking – I wasn’t in a good mental space to be honest. I was putting myself under pressure. After Sydney, every day I kept telling myself I have done really well in one-day cricket and that is international cricket.”
“I kept telling that to myself every day and started really believing in myself once again and neglecting all the other pressures. What I can control is go out there and perform, because me sitting out (of the team) is not in my hands,” he said.