The India vs Australia series Down Under has seen some good banter, unlike previous series where instances of sledging would lead to tense on-field confrontations. In this series, the good natured sledging between Rishabh Pant and Tim Paine has dominated social media and has made for a series played in good nature. However, no one has told this to the Australian crowds. When Melbourne saw instances of booing against Mitchell Marsh and some instances of ‘racial’ chanting against the Indian cricket team, the Australian crowd behavior in Sydney went one notch higher and their target this time was the Indian skipper, Virat Kohli.
Kohli came out to bat after the fall of Mayank Agarwal’s wicket. Agarwal, who displayed maturity and scored his second fifty of the series, holed out to Mitchell Starc off Nathan Lyon. When Kohli strode out to bat, the Indian fans cheered his name but in some sections of the stadium, the Australian fans booed Kohli. The Indian skipper looked in great touch but he was dismissed for 23 in the first over after the Tea break when he gloved a short ball from Josh Hazlewood to Tim Paine.
Ricky Ponting, the former Australian skipper, has criticised the behavior of the fans. “If it was booing then it's absolutely disgraceful. I said that in the Perth Test as well. Show some respect,” Ponting said in an interview to Channel Seven.
This is not the first time that Kohli has faced such a hostile reaction in Sydney. In 2012, he was jeered and heckled by a large section of the crowd and this prompted him to show the middle finger. For this act, he was fined 50 percent of his match fee. In the past, the likes of Kohli and England pacer Stuart Broad have been subject to intense booing. Broad was booed for the entire duration of the 2013/14 tour while Kohli was also subject to intense public booing in the 2014/15 series which India lost 0-2.
When Marsh suffered the fate in Melbourne, Travis Head said no Australian should ever be booed. “I understand the Victorian crowd, Petey (Handscomb) obviously missing out, but I think it's pretty poor for Mitchy to cop that. I don't think it is great," Head had said at that time.
Even in Adelaide, Kohli was booed by a small section of the crowd and even at that time, Ponting had voiced his disapproval. “I don't like seeing it at all. It didn't worry me as a player when it happened in England a couple of times. You've almost got to accept it as acknowledgement for what you've done in the game. It'll be water off a duck's back (for Kohli), I'm sure. He's probably had worse things happen to him on a cricket field,” Ponting had told the official Cricket Australia website.
India are in a great position in the Sydney Test thanks to a magnificent 150 by Cheteshwar Pujara as Kohli’s side aim to become the first Asian Team to win a Test series in Australia.