Virat Kohli apologised to Steve Smith for the India fans booing him on a day when the Oval felt more partisan than during any Ashes Test it has staged.

When Smith went to field on the boundary he was greeted by chants of "cheater" from the Indian fans leading Kohli, who was batting at the time, to gesture to the Indian supporters to applaud him instead. He later apologised to Smith on the crowd's behalf.

"I think what has happened was a long time ago and it is not good to see someone down like that," said Kohli.

"We have had a few arguments on the field but you do not want to see a guy feeling like that every time he plays. Because there were so many Indian fans here I did not want them to set a bad example. I felt bad because if I was in a position where something had happened to me, I had apologised and done everything asked of me and was still getting booed I would not be happy so I said sorry on behalf of the crowd."

Advertisement

The ball-tampering scandal continues to haunt the Australia team and their captain, Aaron Finch, was forced to reject suggestions on social media that Adam Zampa had behaved suspiciously after television cameras showed him reaching in his pocket before rubbing the ball. Finch said he was just using a hand-warmer in his pocket, which is legal

.The Zampa footage was nothing but showed the spotlight Australia are playing under. "I haven't seen the photos, but I know that he has hand-warmers in his pocket. He has them every single game he plays," said Finch.

The atmosphere at the Oval was raucous rather than nasty as India sewed up a 36-run win that was more one-sided than the result suggests. India's 352 was the highest score Australia have conceded in a World Cup and this was the first time they had failed to chase down a score in this tournament since 1999.

The captains were united on one aspect after the game, agreeing that it was time the International Cricket Council acted on the flashing bails which for the fifth occasion in this tournament stayed in their groove after the stumps were hit. David Warner was the lucky batsman with the bails staying in place when he played on to his fourth ball with Finch warning such incidents could ruin a crucial game towards the business end of the competition.

"It's a bit unfair at times," said Finch. "It does seem to be happening more. You'd hate to see something like that happen in a World Cup final or semi-final."

Kohli was adamant the bails had to be improved. "Definitely," he said. "This is not something you'd expect at international level. The technology is great, the lights come on and is very precise when you make something happen but you have to smash the stumps really hard."

The talking points about the crowd and bails overshadowed a game that was won by an opening batsman who lives in Melbourne and loves feeding the cockatoos while walking in the Dandenong mountains. Unfortunately for Australia it was Shikhar Dhawan, and not their captain Finch, who played the winning hand.

When he is not on the road playing cricket, Dhawan lives a quiet life with his family in suburban Melbourne and trains at the MCG, Finch's home ground.

Advertisement

It must have felt eerily familiar for him lining up against Australia but, despite the noise from the stands, Dhawan and Rohit Sharma got off to a slow start. They were circumspect as they saw off Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins with the new ball before exposing Australia's lack of depth in their bowling.

Rohit hit the first six of the innings off Nathan Coulter-Nile and took Starc down the ground for a four to reach his fifty but was out for 57 in a 127-run opening stand that brought Kohli to the crease with his side already dominant.

Dhawan inched his way through the nineties, and the moment of his 17th ODI hundred was one of alarm. Having messed up the call for a quick single, Kohli was sent back and had to dive for his ground. The run-out attempt ricocheted off the stumps and the overthrow gave Dhawan his hundred off 95 balls.

Hardik Pandya, who was dropped first ball by Alex Carey, batted deep in his crease giving him leverage to lift Australian yorkers straight down the ground. His 48 off 27 balls was so good Kohli urged the crowd to applaud him off when he was out. Kohli brought up his 50th ODI fifty and MS Dhoni's late hits took India to a commanding score.

Warner was unable to find any rhythm as he crawled to 56 off 84 balls, as the run rate rocketed.

Finch had been run out for 36 off 35 balls and at the halfway stage Australia were lagging behind at 134 for two. Steve Smith's run-a-ball 69 was yet more glue when Australia needed acceleration and allowed Pandya, the weak link in the attack, to bowl nine overs for just 59 which enabled Kohli to keep Jasprit Bumrah back for the death. He bowled six of the final 14 overs, and even someone with Glenn Maxwell's six hitting skills could not overcome an asking rate of 11 an over.

The Alternative Commentary Collective are podcasting their way through the World Cup. Known for their unconventional sports analysis and off-kilter banter, the ACC have come to ask the tough questions. Here's the latest episode of 'The Agenda':
WARNING: GRAPHIC CONTENT

- The Daily Telegraph