Former Pakistan fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar has claimed that Virat Kohli would have found it difficult to pull or hook him because of his extreme pace, but said that Kohli wouldn’t have been any less successful as a batsman overall had he been an active cricketer in Akhtar’s era.
Kohli debuted in international cricket in 2008, at a time when Akhtar was on his last legs as a cricketer at any level, also making a handful of IPL appearances in the inaugural season. And while Kohli has faced some serious fast bowlers in his years at the top, international cricket hasn’t seen another fast bowler who could strike fear in the hearts of batsmen quite like Akhtar.
Explaining how he would have bowled to India’s captain, Akhtar said that he would have taken a leaf out of James Anderson’s book. “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” Akhtar told Sanjay Manjrekar, during a podcast on ESPNcricinfo. “Having said that, he would have scored as many runs as he scored now had I also played.”
Speaking on Kohli’s predecessor Sachin Tendulkar, with whom Akhtar forged quite the rivalry during his playing years, Akhtar said that he never got aggressive with the master because of the mutual respect they had for each other.
However, he did shed some light on how he tried to get on top of their battles. “I would try to outhink him,” Akhtar said. “Like in the 2006 tour of Pakistan, I knew he had tennis elbow problems and he can’t hook or pull me, so I bowled a barrage of bouncers to keep him quiet.”