‘Virat Kohli is tearing your country apart, and you’re helping him?’: Ex-Australia pacer’s ‘problem’ with New Zealand

Players of India and New Zealand don’t share any amount of animosity towards each other. In fact, if anything, most of these guys are pals off the field.

Look no further than the bond shared between Virat Kohli and Kane Williamson, or how Martin Guptill once, unknown that a mic was around him, addressed Yuzvendra Chahal by a name you aren’t supposed to on air. This very camaraderie shared between players of both teams was there for the world to consume on Wednesday at Mumbai’s Wankhede Stadium where India and New Zealand contested in the first semi-final of the 2023 World Cup, and throughout the course of 50 overs, there were several instances highlighting the healthy relations between players of the two nations.

However, Simon O’Donnell, the former Australia pacer is not a fan of being friendly with the oppositions and believes New Zealand’s gesture towards Virat Kohli when the India batter was battling cramps wasn’t necessary. Kohli, who scored a record 50th ODI century, began cramping up during the latter half of his innings. He felt the heat of the Mumbai weather quite literally and went down when a couple of Kiwi players went up to him and helped him stretch. One of them even picked up Kohli’s bat and handed it back to him. Given the nature of the competition, O’Donnell had a ‘problem’ with it and played down this gesture from New Zealand.

“I had a problem a couple of times last night. Virat Kohli gets cramp, they’re (India) heading for 400 (runs) and (New Zealand) blokes go over and help him. Why would you go and help Virat Kohli when he had a cramp? When they’re heading for 400. In a World Cup semifinal. Spirit of the game is playing within the laws. Virat Kohli is tearing your country apart and you want to go over and give him a hand,” O’Donnell said while speaking onĀ SEN Radio.

“Don’t care. Under no circumstances should you have gone within 20 metres of Virat Kohli when he had a cramp. He (Virat) threw his bat away and one of the Kiwis went and picked it up. ‘Go and pick your own bat up while you’ve got a sore hamstring and a cramp. Stop hitting us for sixes and fours'”.

Fielders helping out the opposition batters when they’re down with issues such as cramps and fatigue is not new. MS Dhoni famously helped Faf du Plessis stretch during an ODI between India and South Africa in 2015, and even yesterday, Ishan Kishan aided centurion Daryl Mitchell when the New Zealand all-rounder, going hammer and tongs, was overwhelmed by the humidity. Kohli and Mitchell weren’t the only ones; Shubman Gill’s cramps were so bad that he had to retire hurt. But O’Donnell’s whole point, while questioning New Zealand, is whether there is a need to be overfriendly when so much is at stake.

“That’s not a big deal. That’s not outside the spirit of the game. It’s being competitive and saying, ‘Ok, he’s being physically challenged, why are we assisting him to stay physically ok to belt the crap out of us?’ I don’t get it; I just don’t get it. Stuff helping him out, he’s made 50 One-Day hundreds, why help him make the 50th against you in a World Cup semifinal? Give me a spell,” the former quick, who played 87 ODIs for Australia, added.

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