Mumbai, Mar 12: Former Australia star batsman Matthew Hayden defended Virat Kohli’s criticism of his opposite number Steve Smith’s DRS tactics, saying that the current India skipper stays within his limits, even when being aggressive.
Australia’s DRS tactics came under heavy criticism from Kohli after the Bengaluru Test, where, Smith was seen looking up questioningly at the dressing room, supposedly to ask for help with a review decision.
The controversy that followed saw both Cricket Australia and the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) back their respective players, but the International Cricket Council (ICC) decided not to take any action against either party.
While the BCCI had lodged a formal complaint against Smith and his side, the Indian cricket board later decided to withdraw it, as the situation clamed down ahead of the third Test in Ranchi.
Despite all the criticism that has been exchanged in the respective media of the two countries, former Australia opener Hayden came out in support of the India skipper ahead of the Ranchi Test saying that Kohli stayed well within his limits in the whole saga; he even went on to compare Kohli’s aggression on and off the pitch with that of his own, back in his playing days.
“No. Virat, like I did, always walks the fine line. We are passionate about the game and we believe that the body language, attitude, temperament, discipline, and domination are part of our arsenal,” Hayden said to Mumbai Mirror. “Sometimes, they get spill over. The key here is respect.”
Hayden further went on to say that Kohli, like himself, plays the game in order to earn respect.
“The only thing I play the game for is to earn respect from fellow players. I am sure that is exactly with Virat as well. He wants to play the game in his spirit. And he also wants to play the game hard,” said Hayden.
“I can say that the Indian cricketers are a privileged society. They earn a lot of money and get a lot of love from the country. These players are blessed. I have actually become India-Australian and maybe in that order,” said Hayden. “Virat said the other day that he cared about 1.3 billion Indians and does not mind if one individual has a different opinion. That sort of approach is right.”
Speaking about how the series has transpired so far, Hayden says that there has been very little margins for error in the 2017 Border-Gavaskar Trophy.
“A 100-run advantage in first innings is huge but India turned it around. It was just because of that 118-run partnership between (Cheteshwar) Pujara and (Ajinkya) Rahane. In the Test match context, it was not a huge stand,” he said.
He went on to compare Pujara and Rahane’s partnership in the Bengaluru Test with the famous 376-run partnership between former India greats VVS Laxman and Rahul Dravid at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata, in 2001, where India made a magnificent turnaround from a 274-run first innings deficit, to set the Aussies a mammoth target of 384 in the fourth innings. India later went on to win the game by 171 runs.
“If you remember, India needed a 376-run partnership between VVS Laxman and Rahul Dravid to turn it around on us in Kolkata in 2001 in somewhat similar situation,” said Hayden. “And here it was only 118. It means the margin for error is so small that even little partnerships like that one can be match-winning stands.”