What’s the story?
Out of favour Indian off-spinner, Harbhajan Singh, was full of praise for arguably the world’s best batsman at the moment, Virat Kohli, calling the Indian skipper his ‘little brother.’
The Jalandhar-born Indian cricketer is a part of India’s maiden sports lit fest that is taking place in Pune which also features Kohli, former Indian opener Virender Sehwag, and India’s hero in the 2016 Rio Olympics, Dipa Karmakar amongst others.
In one of the event’s highlights, the offie had an interaction with one of India’s renowned cricket journalists, Vijay Lokapally, and the host of the show, Nikhil Naz, where he spoke about Kohli.
Harbhajan stated that Kohli is a champion player but that it will be difficult for him to surpass the legendary batsman Sachin Tendulkar, who will always be the No. 1. The spinner also revealed that the Mumbai Indians franchise tried to poach Kohli when he was a youngster.
“Virat Kohli is like a little brother to me and we tried to get him to Mumbai Indians. He (Kohli) will always be a champion player but Sachin Tendulkar will always be the No. 1. Kohli is not only fit himself but also motivates others to be fit. It’s his passion that took him to the next level,” he said.
Harbhajan also spoke highly of Kohli’s acting skills; he quipped, “Virat Kohli is not only a great batsman but also a great actor.”
In case you didn’t know...
In the inaugural IPL auction in 2008, Vijay Mallya's Royal Challengers Bangalore bought Kohli for just $30,000. Almost a decade later, the current Indian skipper is still playing for RCB and he is one of the two cricketers (Harbhajan is the other one) to have played all the editions for a single team.
In 2011, the RCB team management had the option of retaining a maximum of four cricketers ahead of the auction and they decided to retain only Kohli. This implies that it must have been in 2008 when Mumbai Indians tried to buy the Delhi batsman but failed to do so.
After tasting a lot of success in the last 12 months, Kohli will look to carry his form into the four-match Test series against Australia that begins in Pune on February 23. India go into the series as favourites, and Harbhajan also predicted that the series will be a cakewalk for Kohli and his men.
Kohli’s biggest challenge after taking over the captaincy reins from MS Dhoni, who Harbhajan feels should play till the 2019 World Cup, will be the 2017 ICC Champions Trophy; the Men in Blue go into the tournament as the defending champions.
In hindsight, if Mumbai had acquired Kohli in the first edition, they surely would not have let him go. And given that they signed Rohit Sharma in 2011, it would have been a nightmare for bowlers to bowl at these two limited overs superstars.