The cricket world is abuzz with celebration over Virat Kohli's remarkable achievement of securing his 50th ODI century, a feat that has undoubtedly etched his name in the annals of cricketing history. However, amidst the jubilation, former Australian pace bowler Simon O'Donnell has voiced criticism regarding New Zealand's sportsmanship during the World Cup semifinal.
Kohli, demonstrating his mastery with the bat, scored a commendable 117 runs off 113 balls, a crucial contribution that propelled India into the World Cup final at the Wankhede Stadium. The Indian captain, however, faced physical challenges, grappling with cramps during his innings. It was at this juncture that a few New Zealand players extended a helping hand to the star batsman, a gesture that did not sit well with O'Donnell.
Expressing his discontent on Sen Radio, O'Donnell questioned the rationale behind aiding Kohli when India seemed destined for a formidable total of 400 runs. The former Australian cricketer, who played 87 ODIs primarily as a pace bowler, remarked, “Why would you go and help Virat Kohli when he had a cramp? When they're heading for 400. In a World Cup semifinal.”
O'Donnell argued that the spirit of the game lies in playing within the laws and suggested that assisting a player of Kohli's caliber, especially when he is causing considerable damage to the opponent's prospects, goes beyond the norm. He highlighted instances, such as a Kiwi player picking up Kohli's discarded bat, as actions that deviate from the competitive nature of the game.
Despite acknowledging that the assistance may not have altered the match's outcome, O'Donnell maintained that the Kiwi players should have refrained from approaching Kohli during his physical distress. He emphasized the competitive aspect of the sport, stating, “That's not outside the spirit of the game. It's being competitive and saying, ‘Ok, he's being physically challenged, why are we assisting him to stay physically ok to belt the crap out of us?'”
The former cricketer's criticism extended to the context of Kohli achieving his 50th century, questioning the sportsmanship behind helping the Indian captain reach such a milestone, particularly in a crucial World Cup semifinal. O'Donnell concluded, “Stuff helping him out, he's made 50 One-Day hundreds, why help him make the 50th against you in a World Cup semifinal? Give me a spell.”