Steve Smith shaking hands with Virat Kohli. Courtesy: Indianexpress

Steve Smith finally had his say on Virat Kohli’s gesture during the 2019 World Cup last year, which recently won the India captain ICC’s “Spirit of Cricket Award.” The Australian batsman expressed his gratitude towards Kohli and said it was a “lovely gesture”.

During Australia’s encounter with India in the World Cup, the Men in Blue supporters jeered Smith because of his involvement in the sandpaper scandal against South Africa in 2018. However, the Indian skipper stepped in and egged the crowd to support his opponent on his return to international cricket from a one-year suspension for ball-tampering.

“In the World Cup, it was really nice of Virat to do what he did. He did not have to do that and yeah it was a lovely gesture and I really appreciated that,” Smith was quoted as saying to IANS.

Smith went on to laud Kohli’s batting and leadership qualities, because of which India were successful in registering a seven-wicket win in the series decider against Australia in Bengaluru recently.

“Yeah, he is terrific. His batting numbers just speak for themselves. I think he’s an incredible player in all three formats and I think we will see him break many records. He’s already broken plenty of them and I see him breaking many more over the years. He has got the hunger for runs and doesn’t stop getting them. Hopefully, he can stop getting them against Australia, that’ll be nice,” he said.

After winning the award, Kohli was quite taken aback and said that he hadn’t expected to be recognised with an award for it.

“I’m surprised that I have got it, after many years of being under the scanner for the wrong things,” he had said to ICC.

Talking about the Smith incident last summer, he added, “That moment was purely understanding an individual’s situation. I don’t think a guy who is coming out of a situation like that needs to be taken advantage of.”

“That should not be a representation of our fans and what we stand as a cricketing nation, a sporting nation. We need to all take responsibility towards that. Intimidate the opposition, definitely try and have an upper hand but in a matter that is not targeting someone emotionally. That is not acceptable at any level and people should be wary of that,”