Former Australian cricketer Brad Hodge has apologised to Virat Kohli for comments he made about the Indian captain.
Kohli pulled out of the fourth test against the Aussies in Dharamsala with a shoulder injury he suffered while fielding in the third match in Ranchi, leading Hodge to question the 28-year-old.
"You would think that your captain would get out there and get amongst the fight, and get in there," Hodge said. "You'd hope, as a sportsman, that he's seriously injured.
"Because if you miss one game of test match cricket and you're fronting up the next week for Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) versus whoever ... you'd be pretty dirty, if he didn't front up to a test match, and try and win a valuable series against Australia."
When pressed on whether Kohli could be ensuring he is fit and firing for the IPL, Hodge was forthright.
"It's happened before," Hodge said. "Not just Virat, but there's many players that have come up to IPL time and ... look, we know it's a cash-rich tournament, there's some money up for grabs.
"There are certain players that will limp into IPL time, to make sure they get there and perform well."
Hodge copped plenty of flak for insinuating there may have been sinister motives behind Kohli's absence and realised he erred in his judgment, posting an apology to Kohli and Indian cricket fans on his Twitter account.
"As a professional sportsperson who has represented his country, I certainly understand what it means to step out on a cricket field donning your nation's colours. It is the highest honour a sportsperson can ask for," Hodge wrote.
"Keeping that in mind, I take this opportunity to apologise to the people of India, cricket fans, the Indian national cricket team and particularly Virat Kohli for my previous comments.
"My intention was never to harm, criticise or be derogatory towards anyone. They were intended to be lighthearted comments with the utmost respect to the Indian Premier League which I have thoroughly enjoyed through the years.
"The public and fans have every right to be upset and the backlash I have received has certainly driven the point home.
"Again, I am deeply apologetic to the country which has bought (sic) me so much joy, and its inspirational leader in Virat Kohli, to whom I mean no ill-intention and respect highly as professional."
Former Indian Test player Gautam Gambhir was one of those who rubbished the 42-year-old's assertion that Kohli may have been preserving himself for the lucrative T20 tournament.
"That's absolutely not valid," Gambhir told CNN. "I feel that someone who's playing for their country and captaining it would never want to miss a test match, and would definitely want to play for India more than any other tournament. That's always been the case.
"Knowing Virat, he would have never done that and these people ... look, if you want to be in the headline, you can say anything you want, and it's just about making a headline or trying to get your name in the press by making such statements.
"If you don't know the extent of the injury, you should not be talking about it."
Kohli played the archetypal villain in the series against Australia. He all but called the Australians cheats (though he was careful not to use the word), continually sledged Steve Smith's men and accused his opponents of making fun of the Indian physio.
After the last test, he reportedly refused to share a beer with the Aussies and said previous friendships with them were now non-existent.
That behaviour has made Kohli public enemy number one in Australia, but during the final test, Gambhir said he had done nothing wrong and was being unfairly targeted.
"You should stop targeting one or two individuals," Gambhir said. "In a team sport, there's no point targeting one or two individuals, you should talk about the cricket.
"Taking someone individually, or blaming someone individually or personally is something which should not work ... it's very immature."
Kohli's fiery approach to the game is loved by some and loathed by others. Former Australian fast bowler Merv Hughes believes his team-mates appreciate his aggression, but knows opposition players find it hard to stomach.
"I've stuck up for Virat Kohli to a point, saying he was passionate and flying the Indian flag, but I'm a little disappointed with after the series, where he said friendships have been lost and if the reports are true, refused to go to the Australian dressing room for a beer," Hughes said on SEN radio on Wednesday.
"I played in the same manner and no matter what happened out there, you could shake hands and have a beer, but it seems to have carried over, which is disappointing.
"He's a great player and he's probably a bloke you would love to have on your side, but watching it from afar and watching him in other colours, you just think, 'What a flog'."
Indian great Sunil Gavaskar said Australia's frustration at seeing the series slip away, after a strong start in Pune, was the reason behind the attacks on Kohli.
"We should not give any importance to these guys, they are frustrated and that is why they are taking it out on Virat Kohli," Gavaskar said, per The Indian Express.