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Not known to back away from a fight, India's Test captain Virat Kohli has been breathing fire in the ongoing tour of Australia. Whether it's his intimidating MRF willow or the fiery verbal exchanges on the field, Kohli's brand of aggressive cricket seems to have come down pretty hard on the world champions.
The Delhi lad had silenced a chirpy James Faulkner during the 3rd ODI in Melbourne when the latter had tried to engage the Indian batsman in a war of words. The Canberra ODI saw the second part of the now-famous Kohli-Faulkner banter with the Indian vice-captain not missing out on the opportunity to ask the Australian all-rounder as to why was he "fast asleep".
The 1st T20 International at the Adelaide Oval saw Kohli in action once again, but it wasn't Faulkner at the receiving end this time around. The Indian batting sensation gave a long and animated send-off to Steve Smith after taking the catch off Ravindra Jadeja in the ninth over of the match.
The incident sparked a lot of speculations behind Kohli's uncanny gesture with the cricket pundits coming to the conclusion that the send-off could have probably been avoided. However, Kohli has come out in the open to share his side of the story and put an end to the ever-growing controversy.
Having lost David Warner early in the chase of 188 runs, Australia were counting on the partnership between Aaron Finch and Smith to steady their innings in the 1st T20I. However, the latter lobbed the ball straight into the hands of Kohli to give Jadeja and India a vital breakthrough.
After taking the catch, Kohli gave an animated send-off to Smith with a specific 'chatter box' hand gesture which didn't really go down well with the Australian - who was mic'd up and talking to the Channel Nine's commentators right before he perished.
Kohli's typical send-off led to speculations that the Indian was perhaps trying to mock the Oz skipper and wasn't impressed with Smith's chatter. Even the fans seemed to believe that the live microphone chat led to the Australian batsman's dismissal as the hosts lost the match by 37 runs.
Furious with Kohli's antics on the field, Smith revealed that the send-off he got from India's Test captain has no place on the cricket field. While it's okay to have a bit of "banter" going around the field, Smith said, the kind of aggression Kohli showed was not at all needed.
"I don't think you need to do that kind of thing when someone gets out," Smith told Fox Sports. "It's fine to have a little bit of banter when you're out in the field, but when someone's out I don't really think that's on. He gets pretty emotional out there, doesn't he?"
After days of speculations, Kohli has explained what was behind his fiery send-off of Smith during the 1st T20I. He said it had nothing to do with Smith wearing a microphone but still everything to do with what the Australian had said in the middle earlier.
While talking to Channel Nine, Kohli revealed: "I had no idea he had the mic on. He was sort of having a go at our junior bowlers - after hitting a boundary he was having a go at them - so I told the umpires to keep an eye out otherwise I would have to step in."
"They did nothing and in the end I told him that he could go talk in the change room. It had nothing to do with the commentary," he added.
Faulkner's attempt to engage Kohli in a war of words during the 3rd ODI backfired on the Australian paceman as the star batsman emphatically told him to just keep bowling as " I have smashed you enough in my life".
"You're wasting your energy. There's no point, I've smashed you enough in my life. Just go and bowl," Kohli was heard telling Faulkner, who challenged the Indian to go after his bowling. "Smile. Having fun aren't we?" the Australian responded.
In Canberra, Kohli started from where he left at the MCG, belting the left-armer for 29 runs off 16 deliveries including four boundaries. If that wasn't enough, Kohli did not miss an opportunity to ask the Aussie as to why was he "fast asleep" after Faulkner had missed a chance to run him out.
Indian off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin feels, "It's probably a personal battle between those two of them. I think both of them are very good competitors. They know what they're doing, they don't go down without a fight. It's good to have such competition on the field. Both of them are champion cricketers. I think it just adds to the spice of the game so I don't mind it at all."
Australian opener David Warner believes the light-hearted confrontations between Kohli and Faulkner is "fantastic". "Virat's a very passionate guy, he leads by example for his country. He sets the tone, and that's what I try to do for Australia as well when I'm on the field. We know sometimes things might get a little bit out of hand, but that's what we love about the game," he said.