'Modern-day great' Virat Kohli can hit 120 centuries says Shoaib Akhtar
What's the story?
Legendary Pakistan fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar believes that Virat Kohli can play well into his forties and the Indian captain is the "only player who can break Tendulkar's record" of 100 international centuries.The former Pakistan pacer was full of praise for Kohli, who he termed as a "modern-day great" but admitted that comparisons with Sachin Tendulkar are not "justified".
Speaking to Khaleej Times, Akhtar said: "Virat Kohli is a modern-day great. When it comes to run chases, no one has ever shown better understanding of pacing an innings. Yes he has 50 international centuries now. I think he is the only player who can break Tendulkar's record. But there is no pressure on him. He should just go out there and enjoy the game. He should just look after himself.
"If Misbah-ul-Haq can play until 43, I am sure Virat can play until he is 44. If he plays that long and if he continues to score the way he is doing now, I have no doubt that he is the only one who can do it. In fact, he can hit 120 centuries. But comparing him to Sachin is not justified. Sachin was an all-time great. In today's era, Virat Kohli is the greatest batsman."
In case you didn't know...
In the first Test against Sri Lanka, Kohli became only the eighth batsman to score 50 international centuries. He got there in just 348 innings, which is the joint-fastest by any batsman to get to 50 international centuries, along with Hashim Amla. He has nine centuries in 2017, which is the most by any captain in a calendar year, along with Ricky Ponting (twice) and Graeme Smith.
The heart of the matter
The 29-year-old batsman came into the international circuit just as Shoaib Akhtar was coming to the end of his career, struggling with his knee. The pacer bemoaned the fact that he didn't have the opportunity to bowl to Kohli a great deal but still added that even then he was discussed as someone with a spark in the Pakistan dressing room. Since then, he has gone on to dominate international cricket across all formats.
With nine centuries to his name already in the calendar year, his career-best tally, Kohli will be looking to enter double digits for the first time as he takes to the field in the final two Tests against Sri Lanka. He also has three more ODIs and T20Is to add to his tally before the end of the year.
Considering the form that he is in, Virat Kohli certainly looks like the only player who can even come close to breaking Sachin Tendulkar's record. However, considering that he is only halfway there, it goes without saying that he still has a long way to go. While Kohli's supreme fitness will certainly aid him in getting there, he also needs to continue his incredible run with the bat that already sees him second on the all-time list of most ODI centuries despite playing just over 200 ODIs.