'Disrespectful, silly' Kohli blasted by former pace great Johnson

Mitchell Johnson (Getty Images)
Mitchell Johnson (Getty Images)

Perth - Former Australian pace spearhead Mitchell Johnson on Wednesday blasted India captain Virat Kohli as "disrespectful" and "silly" in his approach to fellow skipper Tim Paine during the Perth Test.

The pair had heated exchanges during the game that Australia won, at one point prompting intervention from the umpire.

It was reported that Kohli belittled Paine as just "a stand-in captain", although India's team management angrily denied he said it.

The retired Johnson said the famously combative Kohli's antics were unnecessary.

"At the end of the match, you should be able to look each other in the eyes, shake hands and say 'great contest'," he wrote in a column for Fox Sports.

"Virat Kohli could not do that with Tim Paine, shaking the Australian captain's hand but barely making eye contact with him. To me, that is disrespectful.

"Kohli gets away with more than most cricketers simply because he is Virat Kohli and he gets placed on a pedestal but this Test left the Indian captain looking silly," he added.

After the game, which Australia won by 146 runs to the level the series 1-1, both Paine and Kohli attempted to play down their on-field sledging, which was often picked up by stump microphones.

Kohli described it as simply banter that was part and parcel of Test match cricket.

"As long as there is no swearing the line doesn't get crossed. And no personal attacks," he said.

He added that the remarks in Perth were nothing compared to their Australian tour in 2014, when he claimed to have been called a "spoilt brat".

But Johnson said Kohli's behaviour made a mockery of his pre-series claims that he was a changed man and didn't plan to initiate any confrontations.

"What we saw this Test says otherwise," he said.

"From my experiences with him and what I am seeing as an observer now, not much has changed. It was disappointing and that is not the only area where he let himself down."

Johnson also took offence with Kohli's failure to acknowledge the crowd's applause after Peter Handscomb took a controversial catch to dismiss him for a sublime 123 in the first innings.

"To me the catch was given out so you accept it and move on and as a player who has scored a hundred you acknowledge the standing ovation," he said.

Johnson and Kohli have history. In 2014 at Melbourne, Johnson threw the ball and hit Kohli when attempting a run out, sparking a heated debate.

Gavaskar said that the roles of Kohli and coach Ravi Shastri need to be assessed if India fail to perform in the final two Tests in Melbourne and Sydney.

He said that since India's tour of South Africa at the start of the year, picking the wrong players "has lost matches which could've been won."

If India fail to win the next two matches, "the selectors need to think whether we are getting any benefit from this lot - the captain, coach and support staff," Gavaskar told Aaj Tak TV news network.

The Indian Express said that the biggest bone of contention in Perth was not selection but that Kohli "has little confidence in some of his teammates".

"It's a viciously self-fulfilling prophecy: the more you think they can't do it, they won't be able to do it," the paper said.

It cited the non-selection of Ravindra Jadeja, and Kohli saying that fellow spinner Ravichandran Ashwin would probably not have played even if he had been fit.

"Kohli quite rightly rates (Australian spinner Nathan) Lyon highly, but one wonders how Ashwin and Jadeja would feel about their captain's assessment of them," the paper added.

"India can still win this series, but for that to happen, Kohli will have to back his players."

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