Dharamsala - Indian batsman Cheteshwar Pujara defended Virat
Kohli on Thursday against a barrage of criticism from the Australian media,
insisting his outspoken skipper was one of cricket's great ambassadors.
Speaking ahead of the fourth and final Test between India
and Australia which begins on Saturday, Pujara said he regretted how the series
had been dogged by controversy but said the home side were all behind Kohli.
"He is a great leader and so we are fully supporting
him," Pujara told reporters in Dharamsala where the series reaches its
Kohli has been in the cross-hairs of the Australian media
after accusing his opposite number Steve Smith of systematically abusing the
decision review system (DRS) in the second Test in Banglaore.
Smith has admitted breaching the DRS rules by looking up to his
own dressing-room to seek advice over whether to review an lbw dismissal, but
he insists it was a one-off "brain-fade".
Kohli's failure to substantiate claims that it was part of a
wider pattern of abuse prompted Australia's 'Daily Telegraph' newspaper to dub
him the "Donald Trump of sport" who peddled "fake news".
And the former fast bowler Geoff Lawson, now a pundit for
Fox Sports, has accused Kohli of acting like India's "worst behaved
player" rather than displaying the gravitas expected of the captain of his
"I think it's really sad to hear such comments. We
fully support Virat and he is one of the great ambassadors of this game,"
Pujara told reporters.
"I think the focus has shifted somewhere else, which
shouldn't have happened. We are very much focussed on the game."
While the normally prolific Kohli has managed to score just
46 runs in the first three Tests, Pujara has been in outstanding form for India
and hit a double century in the last Test in Ranchi.
Australia will retain the Border-Gavaskar Trophy if they can
avoid defeat in the final game although India will remain the world's number
one ranked Test whatever the outcome.