In an apparent damage-control exercise, Australian batsman Glenn Maxwell on Friday dismissed reports that he had criticised Virat Kohli that effectively suggested that the star Indian batsman was more concerned with personal milestones than team’s best interests.
Despite nursing a bruised tendon above his right knee and a sore left hamstring, which rendered him doubtful for the fifth and final ODI here on Saturday, Maxwell on Friday took to social media to clear the air about the reports, saying they were “completely untrue” and the Australian team was actually “in awe” of the India Test captain.
“Taken out of context... I also complimented him (Kohli) on how well he had played and got his team into a winning position,” Maxwell wrote on his twitter handle.
After his match-winning 96 off 83 balls in the third ODI in Melbourne, Maxwell was asked if he thought the Indian batsmen were playing more ‘selfishly’ while nearing their centuries – slowing down to ensure the landmark which may not be in best interest of the team.
“They were probably just making sure they got to a milestone,” he had said then. “Some people are milestone driven, some people aren’t. If it means that much to you, you go for it. But it’s not something that drives me too much. Each to their own.”
In Sydney, the right-hander reiterated his opinion of the Indian batsmen, even claiming that he knew his comments would be blown up and that he wasn’t bothered about it.
“I knew it (the comment) was going to blow up. It didn't really bother me. I was sent a photo the other day, it said Virat was 84 off 63, and then 100 off 89 or something like that. He got his last 11 runs off 22 balls to get his hundred. I thought about that and I was like, ‘Jeez, he did it so easily all the way up until then, and then you just lose a bit of momentum.’ I have been thinking about that.
“Then you look on the other hand, when you watch David Warner get into the 90s and he tries to hit Ishant Sharma for a slog sweep for six. It's just, to me, that's two complete different ends of the spectrum. And then you look at the scoreline and you see 4-0. And to me, I'd much rather be 4-0 basically,” he was quoted as saying by Wisden India.
On Friday, however, Maxwell clarified his comments about Kohli. “I was asked to give a bit of an assessment of who was dominating with the bat in this series, and I said ‘I don’t think anyone in the world is hitting the ball better than Virat at the moment’,” Maxwell told cricket.com.au.
“A lot of us are still in awe of what he can do on the field, and the way that he all but took the game away from us the other night in Canberra was something that we were pretty much powerless to stop.
“But some of the reporting I’ve seen today makes it seem like I was personally attacking one of the best players in the game about the way he plays, which is completely untrue.”
Australia skipper Steve Smith and Aaron Finch too begged to differ with Maxwell’s comments, saying it was his personal opinion.
“The talk of Indian players being selfish was obviously Glenn’s view; that’s not my personal view,” Finch told reporters.
“Virat Kohli got a 100 off 80-odd balls the other day — there was nothing selfish about that innings. That was an extraordinary, extraordinary innings... Virat — 25 ODI hundreds now. That’s an unbelievable achievement,” he added.
Smith, meanwhile, said it was only natural for a batsman to slow down when he is approaching a milestone.