NEW DELHI: Pakistan’s World Cup winning captain Imran Khan rated India’s ace batsman Virat Kohli as one of the best in the world, even better than his compatriot Sachin Tendulkar, Indian media reported on Wednesday.
“Cricket has had eras. In the eighties, it was Viv Richards, and then you had Brian Lara and Sachin Tendulkar who stood out. Virat Kohli is one of the most complete players I’ve seen. He’s so versatile; he plays on both feet, and on all sides of the field,’’ said the cricketer-turned-politician in an interview to Hindustan Times.
Khan believes Kohli stands among the ranks of Viv Richards, Brian Lara and Sachin Tendulkar — all three batsmen known to have frustrated bowlers in their respective eras.
One of the most famous Kolhi knocks was when he drove India to victory against Pakistan in the World T20 group stage earlier this year at Eden Garden’s.
Khan was present in the stands during the high-voltage encounter.
“It was very painful watching Pakistan lose, but Kohli played a very good game. I look at batsmen from a bowler’s point of view and I think of how to get them out.
“Just look at how Kohli plays in difficult situations. He’s better than anyone. I’d say he’s the best internationally, today. You can back him to play any match,” said Khan.
The former all-rounder rated Kohli’s temperament better than that of Sachin Tendulkar.
“Apart from his talent and technique, he has a very good temperament. His temperament is better than Sachin’s. Kohli performs at the most difficult of opportunities, which Sachin sometimes wasn’t able to,” said Khan.
The parliamentarian also lashed out at the Indian government for showing ‘immature’ attitude by not allowing bilateral cricket ties between the two countries.
“I did say he should start the tours, but it was the first time I was meeting him (Modi). If it was our second meeting, I would have said it’s a very immature foreign policy.”
Pakistan pacer Mohammad Amir in a separate interview to Times of India a day earlier also piled on praise for Virat Kohli.
The left-armer recalled Kolhi’s knock against Pakistan at the Asia Cup earlier this year when Amir ripped India’s top order apart at the start of the innings but the right-handed batsman came to the rescue and took the match away from Pakistan.
“Kohli certainly is the best (batsman) in the world, and is having a great run at the moment. The Asia Cup encounter is a case in point,” said Amir.
“The wicket wasn’t the easiest to bat on, and India were in a spot of bother when Kohli walked in. He was able to negotiate those tough times and come out unscathed.”
“That’s the hallmark of big players like Kohli. They dig in deep, weather out those rough passages of play and ensure they take their side home,” he added.