I'm sorry on behalf of the crowd - Kohli offers support to under-fire Smith

Virat Kohli insisted he did not want India fans to "set a bad example" after asking them to take it easy on Australia batsman Steve Smith.

Smith was subjected to chants of 'Cheater! Cheater!' on occasions by some of the almost entirely pro-India crowd during the Cricket World Cup clash between the two nations at The Oval on Sunday.

However, Kohli could be seen at one stage during India's innings gesturing to a section of the ground to support Smith, who is back playing again after serving a one-year ban for his part in the ball-tampering scandal that rocked Australian cricket in 2018.

While the former Australia skipper was still targeted when he came out to bat in his side's reply later in the game, Kohli believes it is now time to move on.

"I think what's happened has happened. The guy is back, he's trying to play well for his side," said Kohli in his post-match press conference. 

"Even in the Indian Premier League I saw him, it's not good to see someone down like that, to be honest. We've had issues in the past. We've had a few arguments on the field. But you don't want to see a guy feeling that heat every time he goes out to play.

"What's happened has happened. Everyone has known that. He's come back. He's worked hard. He's playing well for his side now.

So just because there's so many Indian fans here, I just didn't want them to set a bad example, to be honest, because he didn't do anything to be booed in my opinion."

Kohli, who contributed 82 to his side's total of 352-5, also revealed he apologised to Smith on behalf of the supporters.

"He was just standing there, and I felt bad because if I was in a position where something had happened with me and I had apologised, I accepted it and I came back and still I would get booed, I wouldn't like it, either.

"So I just felt for him, and I told him, I'm sorry on behalf of the crowd because I've seen that happen in a few earlier games, as well, and in my opinion that's not acceptable."

Smith, who lost the captaincy in the aftermath of what happened during the third Test against South Africa last March - made 69 but Australia were bowled out for 316.

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