Kohli faces more pressure than Sachin did: Alec Stewart
Former England captain Alec Stewart lauded Indian captain Virat Kohli's nearly-singlehanded performance in the win against England in the recently concluded third Test match. He also added that according to him, the pressure of expectations on Kohli right now is far higher than it was on Sachin Tendulkar during his times.
Virat Kohli made two brilliant knocks of 97 and 103 that paved the way for India's good totals in either innings in the Test at Trent Bridge. England's batsmen did not have much of a reply to them, as a result of which they surrendered by 203 runs.
Earlier, in the first match of the series, Kohli had scored 149 and 51 in both innings, as India went on to lose by a very small margin of 31 runs. Had the other batsmen done slightly better, India could have won that game as well.
"India is ranked No 1, and they put up a decisive show at Trent Bridge. Under Virat, India has become a very competitive and proud unit. India would have lost the series otherwise, but Virat's batting was exceptional. He is the best in the world," Stewart was quoted as having said, in a recent interview.
“At Lord’s, India got their selection wrong, and they corrected that. They must back it up now at the Ageas Rose Bowl and not revert to what we have seen at Lord’s and Edgbaston,” he added.
Kohli had a very poor outing in England prior to this series, having scored just 134 runs from 10 innings so far. In the eleventh innings, which was also his first innings in the current series, he scored 149 runs alone. Such was the change in Kohli's approach.
Stewart, meanwhile, said that this turnaround did not surprise him at all. "He is world class - I am a massive fan of him. Top players will always find a way to succeed. I expected him to do well, he has the required talent and mental strength," he said.
With Kohli performing at such supreme levels, it is only obvious that he gets compared to Sachin Tendulkar in his prime. Much like the Indian cricket God used to, Kohli also garners attention from everywhere, whenever and wherever he is playing. Earlier, it used to be "Sachin vs the other team" and now it is "Kohli vs the other team". But for Stewart, things are not the same anymore, even with such similarities between people's outlook on both players.
“Both represent a country with 1.3 billion people and there will be massive expectations. But it’s a tribute to these people the way they deal with adulation - it's more than just a game of cricket. But the pressure has grown more these days," he said.
"It’s potentially harder on Kohli than Tendulkar because of the accessibility now -- TV, radio, social media, online, these days everyone has an opinion. The spotlight is even greater now,” he observed.
Alec Stewart is also the Director of Cricket in the Surrey County, the same county that Kohli was supposed to play for in the ongoing season's championships.
During the IPL, it was heard that the Indian captain would be playing with the county side ahead of the England-India series, so as to get a firsthand idea on the conditions on show in England - maybe he had the previous failures in English soil, in his mind. But by the end of the IPL, Kohli suffered a neck injury and was hence ruled out of the county stint.
Stewart admitted that he had looked forward to the India skipper playing for his County before the Test series. But dropping out "hasn’t made any difference for him, he is still scoring runs like (he does) elsewhere," Stewart concluded.