Aussies warm to Kohli as skipper shows softer side

Aussies warm to Kohli as skipper shows softer side

Kohli and his wife Anushka Sharma

Four years ago, Virat Kohli was Australia’s public enemy No 1 -- vilified by the local media and disliked by the fans.

Even then, the Indian skipper had given a glimpse of his precocious talent with 692 runs, and this time, he has returned to the country as the game’s biggest superstar and is treated like one.

He was booed briefly by a section of Aussie fans when he came out to bat in the second innings, but they have largely warmed up to him. Where his on-field aggressive behaviour and fiery exchanges were common news last time, his batting abilities and gestures off the field are making news this time.

Captain’s concern

On Tuesday, Kohli took a morning flight from Adelaide with his actor wife Anushka Sharma along with the rest of the Indian team and as he stood in the queue to emplane, mobile cameras began to flash.

For a change, they were not Indians, but Australians. Once on board, the skipper and his wife vacated their business class seats for his fast bowlers to ensure they travelled a nearly three-and-a-half hours journey to Perth comfortably.

This act quickly gained traction in the social media with several former cricketers, commentators and local journalists tweeting about it. This isn’t, however, the first such instance. Even MS Dhoni used to give up this luxury to accommodate his pacers.      

Steve O’Keefe who?

Steve O’Keefe became a familiar name in India after the left-arm spinner bowled Australia to a famous win in Pune in 2017 with a 12-wicket haul in the match. He played four more Tests before slipping into oblivion.

The New South Wales bowler has an interesting anecdote to narrate about Kohli whom he first met in 2008 as a 19-year-old at the Brisbane academy.

“We used to do the fitness sessions and he used to pull out halfway and just sit there and say he’s got hamstring. So, he would do five of the 10 sprints and not eat too well, half a gym session here and there. He had a couple of ordinary tattoos that he’s improved on since and now he’s a male model!”

O’Keefe then mentions about Indians’ love for ASICS shoes and how he drove Kohli to the factory. He says he had a bit of bromance with Virat. “You fast forward 10 years and he’s actually getting paid something like USD 20M by another company to wear its shoes!

“I did mention that to him when I was over there (in India) in 2017 for the Test series, wondering if he could show a bit of love back and give me a couple of pairs of shoes after I used to spend my time picking him up from the airport, driving him to get joggers. Funnily enough, he didn’t really remember who I was, let alone what I did for him!”