Former Pakistan pacer Shoaib Akhtar has once again spoken highly of Virat Kohli, saying the India captain’s growth as a batsman over the years has been terrific. Akhtar recalled the first few years of Kohli in international cricket, calling him a ‘brat’, but admitted the tremendous transformation shown by him, coupled by backing of the team management, deserves praise.
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“Virat Kohli has reached a whole new level, but who is behind the Kohli brand? In 2010, 2011, Kohli was nowhere to be seen. He was part of the circle; he was a brat like me. All of a sudden, the system supported him. The management went around him. He also realised that there’s a lot of reputation at stake,” Akhtar said on a YouTube Show Cricket Baaz.
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Akhtar weighed in on Kohli’s comparison with Sachin Tendulkar, believing the Indian captain has played his cricket in a much easy era, although the former quick mentioned that it takes nothing away from what he’s achieved in his career. Kohli is India’s highest ODI run-getter and century-maker after Tendulkar, and is the leading T20I run-getter in the world with 2794 runs.
“It’s not his fault that he’s playing in an era of easy cricket, or if Sachin played in a tougher era or Wasim, Waqar and Inzamam have player a much more competitive brand of cricket. So if he’s scoring runs, what we can say about it?” Akhtar said.
Recently, Akhtar has been at the receiving end of criticism of his repeated praise for India, and continuous bashing of Pakistan cricket. On the topic Akhtar explained that even though there are times he criticizes the Indian cricket team too, the fact that they have two of the best batsmen in the world in Kohli and Rohit Sharma, doesn’t leave him with enough ammunition to fire at them.
“I criticize India as well. But if Virat Kohli has 12,000 runs, what else you can say, Rohit Sharma has two double centuries in One Day cricket, what can you say. The enemy’s qualities should be known among us. Kohli has become the greatest batsman, what can you say, should I say he is a bad person or he is not a good player,” Akhtar said.