Steven Smith praises Virat Kohli but is happy to brush off the boos

Steven Smith has described Virat Kohli's efforts to stop the crowd from heckling him as "a lovely gesture", but insists the frequent booing and heckling throughout the World Cup has not affected him.

When Smith was fielding near the boundary during Australia's loss to India at The Oval, a section of the crowd started chanting "cheater, cheater", in reference to Smith's involvement in the Newlands ball-tampering scandal. Kohli, who was batting at the time, gestured to the crowd and clapped at Smith, indicating his support for the former Australian captain. After the match, Kohli expressed his support for Smith during a press conference.

"Yeah, it was a lovely gesture," Smith said. "It doesn't really bother me what the crowd do to be perfectly honest, I'm just sort of blocking it all out but it was a lovely gesture from Virat, that's for sure."

While Smith can't be completely unaware of the booing that has accompanied the start and finish of many of his innings in the tournament so far, he has been able to overcome it to the point where he has made three half-centuries in five matches, without going on to make a hundred though. Against Sri Lanka at The Oval on Saturday, he played his most sprightly innings so far, a 59-ball 73 in support of Aaron Finch's match-winning knock of 153 off 132 balls. Smith's other totals have been scored at a rate of under a run-a-ball and it augurs well for Australia's campaign that he has found an extra gear.

"When you've got off to a good start and you've got wickets in the shed, you've got to keep trying to take the game on," Smith said. "I think that's where you get your 350-pluses. I think if you've sat back and let the game get away from you and try and do too much at the back end, some days it can come off and you can go at 12-plus an over at the back end, but there are a lot of specialty bowlers who bowl at the back end and can be difficult to get away.

"If you just keep that run rate going and playing with a positive mindset and slightly aggressive, with wickets in the shed, that's where you get your 350-pluses. We probably didn't quite finish off as we should have [against Sri Lanka], lost a few quick wickets in clumps again. But I thought [Glenn Maxwell] Maxi came in and did his job. If we keep giving those guys up top [support] and the top four getting big hundreds, you go a long way to winning games."

Smith's innings against Sri Lanka equalled his highest score for the tournament so far but the 73 he made against West Indies at the start of the tournament was vastly different. With wickets falling around him on a challenging pitch, against aggressive fast bowling, Smith looked as though he was batting in Test mode, taking 103 balls to reach his total and shoring up Australia's chances in the process.

"We spoke after the first [warm-up] game against West Indies, and one-day cricket you've got to really adapt to the conditions and sometimes you may need to play like a Test match and sometimes you may need to play like a T20," Smith said. "And when your team gets off to a really good start and you've got 25 overs to go and you're only one down, it becomes a T20 mindset and that's where you get your big totals. I've played a lot of T20 cricket and know the game. I know the situation a lot of the time, it's about summing it up and playing according to what needs to be done out in the middle."

Smith maintains he has no current aspirations to captain Australia again - he is banned from doing so for another year - but, while he is now free to focus on his game rather than managing the additional leadership role, he says that hasn't changed his approach.

"I obviously don't have to worry about that, but I don't think that ever hindered me. I think I have always just loved batting and wanted to bat as much as I could in the nets. That probably played against me at times, batting too much in the nets and not freshening myself up. That's one thing I am learning as I am getting older, that balance of knowing to relax a bit. Especially if I am hitting the ball well, not just keep on hitting because it is fun. But having that balance so I am fresh out in the middle and ready to do the job that needs to be done."

Others in the Australian camp have commented on Smith's ubiquitous presence in the nets and his frequent shadow batting, with Justin Langer quipping that he even shadow bats in the shower.

"I don't know how he's spying on me in the shower," Smith laughed. "Good on him. Yeah I'm known to play a few shots here and there. I always have a bat in my room and Ricky [Ponting] was actually rooming about ten rooms up from me the other day and said, 'Were you batting at 7 o'clock this morning?' He could hear me tapping on the ground and I said, 'Yeah I was actually.'"

If Smith continues to play crucial innings in the middle throughout the World Cup, then his team-mates will undoubtedly tolerate more early morning interruptions in the hotels.