Speaking on Cricket Baaz, Akhtar recalled Kohli’s initial years in international cricket, point out how he was a “brat like me” but eventually, with the help of the management and the board, transformed himself into the player he is today.
What do you make of this suggestion from Shoaib Akhtar?https://t.co/GLWpzhyh8w
— Wisden (@WisdenCricket) April 9, 2020
“Virat Kohli has reached a whole new level,” Akhtar said, “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, his brand was built. He also realised that there’s a lot of money, records and reputation at stake.”
Akhtar also opened up on accusations that he is scathing in his criticism of the Pakistan cricket team but doesn’t adopt a similar approach when analysing the Indian team and its players.
“I criticise India as well,” he clarified. “But if Virat Kohli has 12,000 runs, what else you can say, Rohit Sharma has two [three] double-centuries in one-day cricket, what can you say? What can you say to Bumrah? The enemy’s qualities should be known among us. Kohli has become the greatest batsman, what can you say? Should I say he is a bad person or he is not a good player?”
"All of Akhtar’s riveting short stories were an apex short of becoming a great tale. But then again his imperfections made him even more relatable to the average Pakistani."@Rehan_ulhaq unpacks the memorable career of Shoaib Akhtar. https://t.co/P9ZGp2gvRE
— Wisden (@WisdenCricket) May 22, 2020
Earlier this year, Akhtar, while in conversation with Sanjay Manjrekar on ESPNCricinfo, had explained how he would have bowled to Kohli had the two played in the same era. “I would have come wide of the crease and tried to shape that ball out and lured him into driving, something that James Anderson has done with him” he had said. “Having said that, he would have scored as many runs as he scored now had I also played.”