Virat Kohli is the biggest challenge for a bowler, says Mohammad Amir
What's the story?
Amir said that bowling to Kohli remains the biggest challenge for any bowler in the world at the moment and is hoping that he gets the opportunity to bowl more at the Indian skipper in the future in order to continue improving.
“The world knows Kohli is the best. You have to give your best against him. If you give him a chance he takes away the game, like he did in the Dhaka Asia Cup game,” Amir told Wisden India, referring to the match in 2016 when Kohli took India home despite losing three early wickets against their arch-rivals.
Amir pointed out Kohli's impressive numbers with the bat while chasing as something very few batsmen around the world can boast about.
"I have to focus and do my best to target him. He has the best strike rate and average while chasing so he is also the biggest challenge for bowlers around the world," he said before adding, "You become a better bowler when you bowl well against a batsman like Kohli."
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Kohli had recently heaped praise on Amir during a television interview, naming the Pakistan left-arm pacer among the Top 3 bowlers in the world at the moment.
Despite the political tension between India and Pakistan that has resulted in bilateral cricket ties being suspended between the two Asian nations, cricketers from both sides have remained good friends off the pitch and the respect that Amir and Kohli share for each other has been a fine instance of the same.
The heart of the matter
The 2016 Asia Cup T20 contest between India and Pakistan saw Amir take three early wickets only for Kohli to steer India safely home with a classy knock of 49.
The two sides met again at the 2016 World T20 held in India and ahead of the fixture at the Eden Gardens, Kohli gifted Amir one of his bats - a gesture Amir described as an evergreen memory.
Amir, who is currently on the sidelines with a shin injury, thanked Kohli for the praise that has come his way from the Indian skipper and is hopeful of getting more opportunities to bowl at the 28-year-old.
Amir believes that bowling to the best batsmen in the world will only help him improve his bowling. He also added that he has to be on the top of his game if he is to get the better of Kohli in any contest.
Whether Amir fulfils his wish of getting more opportunities to bowl at Kohli is something very few can predict at the moment with the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) threatening to pull out of matches against India in ICC events unless the BCCI honour the MoU signed between the two boards in 2013.
With the Future Tours Program Schedule of the ICC, which comes into effect from 2019, featuring 19 matches between the two nations, it will be interesting to see how the two boards work things out.
Despite Amir failing to recapture the brilliance of yesteryear, he remains one of the most dangerous bowlers in the world, while Kohli has established himself as arguably the world's best batsman at the moment with his frightening consistency over the years.
It is wonderful to see these two players share a mutual respect for each other despite the tension between their respective boards and is proof that sport can bring people together in a way which very few other media can.