India skipper Virat Kohli and Australia captain Steve Smith exchanging harsh words while standing toe-to-toe on Day 2 of the second Test sure added spice to the rather slow proceedings on Sunday. (Day 3 LIVE UPDATES | LIVE SCORECARD)
Virat Kohli’s aggression, however, has lost him an admire from Down Under — former Aussie wicketkeeper Ian Healy.
“The pressure is starting to tell on (Kohli),” Healy told Melbourne radio station SEN and was quoted by cricket.com.au.
“I’m losing respect for him. He’s not only now continuing his disrespect of the Australian players and umpires, but I think he’s putting pressure on his own players now.”
Healy admitted that Virat Kohli is the best batsman he has ever seen but felt the Indian skipper’s approach needn’t work for the team.
“His feistiness and real aggression towards the opposition has been good (in the past), especially when he wasn’t captain.
“It would lead his team with him. They’re more timid than they look and they let on, the Indian cricketers,” said Healy, who has played 119 Tests for Australia.
“So Kohli’s aggression was good for them. But I think it’s not good for them anymore,” added Healy.
“He’s really putting some pressure on (his players). You can read pressure all over Ravi (Ravichandran) Ashwin’s face.
“I think there’s massive cracks showing in (Kohli). He’s got to be a lot more respectful of his opponents. The stuff he did with Steve Smith was unacceptable.”
There were more instances of aggression, or should we call it fun, on Day 2.
Pacer Ishant Sharma left everyone in splits after making a monkey face while attempting to get under the skin of Smith, who had arrived at the crease after Ravichandran Ashwin had dismissed opener David Warner.
Ishant beat Steve Smith a few times, the ball keeping low. After one delivery, the pacer shook his head vigorously. After the next ball, another close shave for Smith, Ishant made faces at Smith, leaving the batsman amused and Kohli as well as thousands in the stands in splits. Matt Renshaw also joined in the banter with Ishant.
Whenever India and Australia play, sparks usually fly.
The cricketing relations between India and Australia touched the lowest point in the 2007-08 series Down Under after the ‘Monkeygate’ row involving Harbhajan Singh and Andrew Symonds.
That was followed by Virat Kohli gesturing what he thought of the heckling crowd during the 2011-12 series and Australian opener David Warner’s clashes with him on the field.
Considering the history of fireworks, the current series, a face-off between Kohli and Smith, the two top batsmen in Test cricket at the moment, has been very tame.
Healy, however, thinks otherwise. Then again, Australians — be it fans or experts — have never been too kind to players other than their own when it comes to aggression.