Taunton: Pakistan skipper Sarfaraz Ahmed believes Australia’s Steve Smith will not be booed by the Pakistani fans when the two teams face each other in their World Cup tie at the Cooper Associates County Ground, here on Wednesday. Smith was constantly booed by Indian fans during the World Cup fixture between India and Australia at the Kennington Oval on June 9 which the Men in Blue won by 36 runs.
Smith, who was the captain of the ball-tampering controversy which took place last year, was first booed, with chants of “cheater, cheater”, making the rounds while he was fielding at third man during the Indian innings. All-rounder Hardik Pandya had just been dismissed, and the crowd tried to get under Smith’s skin with the chants.
Indian skipper Virat Kohli, who was batting at the time, looked up towards that section of the stadium and gestured them not to do so. He instead made a “clap” gesture and pointed towards Smith. The Indian skipper also did the same when Smith walked past, with both players shaking hands. And with Pakistan fans expected to make up a large chunk of the crowd in Taunton, there are fears they might follow the example of the Indian supporters and give a tough time to Smith and David Warner.
“I don’t think Pakistani people will do that. Pakistani people love cricket, they love to support and they love the players,” said Sarfaraz on Tuesday in response to a media query whether he would follow the footsteps of Kohli if a similar situation arises in Taunton. While the gesture from Kohli took many by surprise given his past relationship with the Australian players, the Indian batting mainstay was appreciated by many for his sportsmanship.
Even Glenn Maxwell had expressed his happiness over Kohli’s gesture and reckoned that he is not surprised by the same. “It’s nice to hear that and I’m not surprised by that, because we do get along as individuals with him really well off the field. What happens on the field, that’s for everyone else to write about,” he had said.
Pakistan currently stand at the eighth spot in the points table with three points in three games. After beginning their tournament campaign on a horrible note against West Indies, the 1992 champions came out with a much improved performance and defeated tournament favourites England. However, they were left frustrated as their next match against Sri Lanka was washed out without a ball being bowled.