NEW DELHI : Former Australia skipper Michael Clarke on Wednesday slammed his country's media for "tarnishing" India skipper Virat Kohli's image and stressed that his country "loves" the Indian except a handful of journalists.
Besides comparing the 28-year-old Kohli to United States President Donald Trump by news daily "The Daily Telegraph", Fox Sports Australia's Facebook account put Kohli's image alongside a puppy, a kitten and a panda in a poll titled -- 'Vettel of the Week'.
The post's caption read: 'Recent events have prompted a return of our Vettel of The Week award. Kids, ask your grandparents. The rest of you know the drill.'
"Comparing Virat Kohli with Donald Trump -- what a load of s**t is that? What Virat did, even (Steven) Smith would have," Clarke was quoted as saying by India Today.
"Bear in mind, I love Kohli and the Australian public love him. It's just two or three reporters who are trying to tarnish him but Virat shouldn't be bothered."
"I always somehow find an Australian in him the way he plays and I absolutely love how he accepts challenges," the World Cup-winning skipper added.
Since the Decision Review System (DRS) row in the second Test in Bengaluru, the Australian media have upped their attack on Kohli.
Clarke said even skipper Steve Smith won't be bothered by what the Australian media is writing.
"I don't think even Smith would bother about what the Australian media is saying. In fact both the captains would be telling their teams to concentrate on how to win in Dharamsala."
"It is more like the Ashes 2005 we played where every Test was life and death and the players gave it all on the field. But off the field, both teams remained friends. It is only befitting of the way this series has been played that it will be decided in the last Test," he said.
Not only Clarke, former India skipper Sunil Gavaskar also defended Kohli by comparing the Australian media as an extended part of their team's support staff.
"We should not bother too much about the Australian media and what they write as they are an extension of their cricket team's support staff. The focus now should shift to cricket from off-the-field issues," Gavaskar was quoted as saying by NDTV ahead of the third Test.
With the series now locked at 1-1, both the sides will face off in the fourth and final Test, that starts on Saturday in Dharamsala.