Former Pakistan fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar recently said that Virat Kohli was a “brat” during his formative years in international cricket, and that the Indian team management deserves credit for having made Kohli the player he is today.
On a YouTube show ‘Cricket Baaz,’ Akhtar said that the Indian cricket system backed him and showed faith in him, even when Virat Kohli was not scoring many runs in the early 2010s.
“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.
Many believe that Virat Kohli’s transformation came about after that famous chase against Sri Lanka in Hobart at the 2012 Commonwealth Bank series. Chasing 320 in 40 overs, Kohli smashed 133 off just 86 balls to get India home in the 37th over.
That knock seemed to immensely boost his confidence as his epic 183 against Pakistan at the Asia Cup came 18 days later. And Virat Kohli has not looked back ever since.
It’s not Virat Kohli’s fault that he’s playing in an easier era, feels Akhtar
About comparisons with the legendary Sachin Tendulkar, Akhtar acknowledged the fact that Tendulkar faced better bowlers during his time. But, he said that one cannot overlook the mountain of runs Virat Kohli has already scored.
“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 played a much more competitive brand of cricket. So if he’s scoring runs, what we can say about it,” Akhtar, who has picked 444 wickets in 46 Tests, 163 ODIs and 15 T20Is, said.
Virat Kohli has hit the second most ODI centuries (43) and is eighth on the list of leading run-getters in international cricket with 21,901 runs at an astonishing average of 56.15. In fact, he is the leading run-scorer in T20I cricket. In 82 matches, he has racked up 2,794 runs at an average 50.80.