Australia coach Darren Lehmann did not hide his disappointment when asked about India captain Virat Kohli's no-longer-friends comments after the series decider in Dharamsala. India won the series 2-1 and reclaimed the Border-Gavaskar trophy. After a hard-fought series, Kohli in his post-match press conference said his relationship with the Australian players has changed and it is no longer the same as it was before the start of the series. At the end of it, Kohli had no qualms saying that he has been proven wrong in considering Australian players his off-field friends.
Asked about Kohli's comment in a pre-departure media interaction, Lehmann said, "Disappointing but that's his opinion isn't it?" On whether he thought that the rest of the Indian team had sentiments similar to Kohli, Lehmann replied in the negative.
"No, I don't think the Indian team (feels that), I too was very impressed with (Ajinkya) Rahane's captaincy. I thought he was brilliant," Lehmann said, trying to side-step the query by referring to Rahane's stand-in captaincy during the fourth and final Test in Dharamsala.
Kohli had missed the series-decider owing to a shoulder injury and even that had been mocked by the Australian players.
Lehmann was lavish in his praise for Australia captain Steve Smith, comparing his superb batting run in the series with no less than Don Bradman. Smith finished with 499 runs in four games.
"Smith has been brilliant, he has been unbelievable. He has been Bradman-like with the bat. I am really pleased with him and how he has brought the team as a leader," he said.
However, Lehmann was candid in admitting that the Australian team's performance did not quite match up to India. He was nonetheless proud of the effort put in by the visitors.
"We were disappointing in a couple of Test matches. We got so close but yet so far I suppose. We were a 100 runs short in this game. But I am proud of the lads and the effort they put in," he said.
"The way they have gone about it, it has been impressive. There are a lot of learnings for this group on this tour. They are hurting with the result at the moment but I am pleased with the effort and attitude. Smith will just get better and better.
"They have copped a lot from the Indian media. I am pleased with how they have handled it. We weren't good enough in this series but we have got to keep learning," he added.
(With PTI Inputs)