Virat Kohli shows his passion to win a match for the nation through his aggression. But the Indian skipper has often been criticised for his on-field character by the cricket fraternity. During the recently concluded Perth Test, Kohli was involved in an onfield-banter with rival captain Tim Paine. So much so that, the umpire had to intervene into the matter. However, former Australia coach Darren Lehmann on Thursday backed Kohli’s behaviour on the field and said he is an “excitable character” and always wants his country to win.
Lehmann said Kohli was entertaining to watch.
“Virat Kohli is very passionate. So that’s what you get from him on the field and that’s what he will always give you. He is an excitable character. He enjoys his challenges, and he wants to win,” Lehmann told PTI.
“Not only for himself, he wants his country to win. It was good to see out there and I thought it was good banter,” he said. Lehmann made light of Kohli’s confrontation with Paine.
“Neither Kohli nor Tim Paine crossed the line. It was good banter, and it came across as a bit of fun on the stump mics,” he said.
Similar views had been earlier expressed by current Australia coach Justin Langer, who described the showdown as humorous.
Lehmann said the face-off wasn’t out of the ordinary and shouldn’t be turned into a controversy.
“You have to show passion when you are playing for your country and I don’t have any issue with what happened. There shouldn’t be any drama about what happened in Perth.
“You just have to make sure it is never personal and play the game in right spirit. Rest, I am sure they will sort it out after the game or after the series,” he said.
Lehmann was coach when the ball-tampering scandal happened on tour in South Africa and he had stepped down from the post as a consequence.
Australian cricket has been through turbulence since, but he saw the win in Perth as a turning point for this ‘new team’ under Paine.
“Paine has been an excellent captain so far. He came out to be the leader for Australian cricket in a tough time and has done everything right, very much so. I don’t think anyone can have any criticism with Paine’s leadership,” he said.
“Obviously India were the better side in Adelaide. But these two Tests have shown that it will be a great Test series. This win in Perth is a great confidence booster for the Australian team,” he added. He also lauded Langer’s role in the team’s revival.
“For them to get a first Test win since Durban, it is obviously pleasing for Paine and Justin Langer, but for all other players and coaching staff as well. I think they will carry immense confidence going into the Boxing Day Test,” said Lehmann.
After getting their team balance right in Adelaide, India mixed things up in Perth with four pacers and no full-time spinner. It cost them dearly as they lost momentum and the series now stands levelled at 1-1.
Lehmann said India ceded advantage early in the Test and it was tough to catch up on a tough pitch.