Former Pakistan captain Wasim Akram suggested Virat Kohli might be from another planet after the Indian batter’s superb half-century guided them to a four-wicket win over arch-rivals Pakistan at the Twenty20 World Cup.
Man of the Match Kohli smashed an unbeaten 82 off 53 balls as India chased down 160 at a packed Melbourne Cricket Ground on Sunday. He hit four sixes, including back-to-back shots over the ropes in the penultimate over to bring India back into the game.
“Aliens do walk among us, he’s one of the best I’ve seen among the modern greats. Not just now, he has been scoring for the last 15 years and he has the best average while chasing,” Akram said on Pakistani television channel A Sports.
Kohli’s sublime knock comes amid a return to form after he ended a three-year drought for an international hundred at the Asia Cup last month, smashing an unbeaten 122 against Afghanistan in the game’s shortest format.
India great Sachin Tendulkar said it must have been the best innings of Kohli’s career.
“It was a treat to watch you play, the six off the back foot in the 19th over against (Haris) Rauf over long-on was spectacular. Keep it going,” he tweeted.
India Prime Minister Narendra Modi was among those praising Kohli on social media, while former Pakistan players also joined in.
“What a game of cricket we’ve just witnessed and this guy Virat Kohli is absolutely a beast. You cannot compare his class to any other player in the world in white-ball cricket. He can anchor, he rotates the strike, he can hit sixes and he knows how to finish the game,” Pakistan batter Shoaib Malik tweeted.
With India celebrating the festival of Diwali, The Times of India newspaper said Kohli was “back as king” to light up the World Cup with a “cracker of an innings”.
Former Australian speed merchant, Brett Lee said that a legend like Kohli can’t be kept down for too long.
His words proved to be prophetic as Kohli announced his second coming with a magnificent 82 to take India home by four wickets against arch-rivals Pakistan here on Sunday.
“I found it quite amusing when someone of the calibre of Virat Kohli is attacked. Those who had attacked Kohli didn’t have a look at his records and his performances in the three formats of the game,” Lee said during an interaction organized by Legends League Cricket.
“There are times when you don’t get hundreds or you don’t get fifties. That’s all part of professional sport. What I do know is Virat Kohli is a legend of the game and it’s very hard to keep these guys down for too long,” he added.
Like many others, he agreed that Jasprit Bumrah’s absence is a big loss, but felt Mohammed Shami is an ideal replacement.
“Obviously they needed somebody like Bumrah, who could close out on an innings. If India have to win the tournament they have to bowl well in the last five overs. The side that closes out at death as a bowling unit will win the T20 World Cup.”
On a different note, Lee said that he would be happy if David Warner is considered for future Australian captaincy, keeping aside the ball-tampering episode and the ban on his leadership role.
“I have got no issues with David Warner getting a chance to lead Australia in future. He has a great cricket brain and, in my opinion, deserves every chance to captain Australia,”
India face the Netherlands in their second Group 2 fixture on Thursday.
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