Virat Kohli has apologised to Steve Smith for the booing and abuse he was copping from Indian fans and told supporters to cheer him in Australia's 36-run World Cup loss.
Smith and David Warner have been met with jeers at all three of Australia's games since returning to the side from the ban stemming from the ball-tampering dramas last year.
Australia's former captain met the same response when he briefly fielded on the boundary during Kohli's innings on Sunday, mellowing only slightly when he waved happily at a small section.
However Kohli stepped in at the next break in play, pointing to the crowd and his Indian crest and encouraging them to be more positive.
"What's happened has happened like long back, the guy is back, he's trying to play well for his side," Kohli said.
"Even in the IPL I saw him, it's not good to see someone down like that, to be honest.
"I just felt for him, and I told him, 'I'm sorry on behalf of the crowd'.
"Because I've seen that happen in a few earlier games, as well, and in my opinion that's not acceptable."
Kohli is the first player to make such a statement to a crowd since Smith and Warner's returns.
It comes despite he, Smith and the Australian side having had at times a fractured relationship on the field.
Most notably, the India captain all but accused Smith of cheating in 2017 when he looked to the dressing room before deciding whether to review an LBW decision against India.
"We've had issues in the past. We've had a few arguments on the field. But you don't want to see a guy feeling that heat every time he goes out to play," Kohli said.
"So just because there's so many Indian fans here, I just didn't want them to set a bad example, to be honest.
"I felt bad because if I was in a position where something had happened with me and I had apologised, I accepted it and I came back and still I would get booed, I wouldn't like it, either."
Australia's all-rounder Glenn Maxwell said it indicated the two teams were quite close, away from the on-field aggression.
"I'm not surprised because we do get along as individuals with him really well off the field," he said.
"All we want to do is play our cricket hard and he does that, he gets in opposition faces."
Australia insist their game plan has the ability to allow them to pull off big run chases, despite finishing 36 short against India at the Cricket World Cup.
In pursuit of what would have been a record chase of 353, Australia kept wickets in hand as the rate required reached 11 with 15 overs to go at The Oval.
They then attempted to up the ante, with Steve Smith, Glenn Maxwell and Usman Khawaja combining for some big overs before all perished close to each other.
"I thought if we could have some wickets in hand and some batters in toward the back end of the innings, we could potentially do some damage," captain Aaron Finch said.
"But we probably just kept losing wickets when we were trying to up the run rate and then as you know, when new batters come in, the run rate creeps up slowly."