Melbourne: Australian pace spearhead Mitchell Starc has described Virat Kohli as a "fantastic captain", having shared the dressing room with the India captain while representing Royal Challengers Bangalore in the Indian Premier League.
Kohli's on-field heated exchanges with Australia skipper Tim Paine in the second Test turned out to be a subject of discussion with many former players, including Mitchell Johnson, criticising the batting maestro's behaviour.
However, Starc backed Kohli.
"I've played a couple of IPLs with Virat and he's been fantastic to play under, as a captain," Starc told reporters.
"Obviously, he's a fantastic player. The way India play this series and go about their cricket, it's up to them."
Starc, who was bought by Royal Challengers Bangalore in 2014, had emerged as a key bowler for the IPL team. He parted ways with Bangalore in February last year before being picked by Kolkata Knight Riders early this year.
Starc, though, was ruled out of the 2018 IPL season due to injury and was released from KKR last month.
On Sunday, Indian coach Ravi Shastri called "an absolute gentleman", while former Australian opener Matthew Hayden suggested Kohli was more Australian than Indian in many ways.
Kohli also received the backing of Australia coach and Paine himself, who said he relished his war of words with the combative Indian.
India and Australia are currently tied 1-1 in the four-match series after topsy-turvy contests in Adelaide and Perth. The two teams will face off in the third Test on 26 December at the iconic Melbourne Cricket Ground.