Melbourne: An “excitable character” who wants to win at all times, that’s how former Australian coach Darren Lehmann described Virat Kohli and said there was nothing wrong with the Indian captain’s on-field conduct. Kohli and Australian skipper Tim Paine clashed on several occasions during the second Test in Perth which India lost by 146 runs. Their exchanges have been perceived differently everywhere.
The BCCI and Cricket Australia have been quick to douse the fire by saying that the banter was civil but some former Indian and Australian cricketers criticised Kohli’s aggression. Lehmann said Kohli is 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 challengers, and he wants to win,” Lehmann said.
“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 view 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.