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Why Junaid Khan thought Kohli was a ‘normal batsman’ after their first clash

by Wisden Staff 2 minute read

Junaid Khan, the Pakistan paceman, has recalled the time he made Virat Kohli look ‘normal’ when Pakistan toured India in 2012-13 for a limited-overs series.

Junaid kept Kohli to just 13 runs in three ODIs in that series, dismissing him for 0, 6 and 7 in each match. Kohli, who was 24 at the time, was beginning to make a reputation for himself as a batsman, having won the World Cup the previous year.

However, Junaid revealed how his first impression of the Indian batsman wasn’t overwhelming. “The first ball I bowled to him was a wide but the next ball when I beat him, I thought, ‘Well, he’s a normal batsman’,” Junaid told Mazher Arshad on the Cricingif show. “Then I got some momentum.

“Virat jokingly told me ahead of the series that these are Indian pitches, and that balls won’t swing or seam here. I said, ‘We’ll see, because I have plenty of momentum with me as well.’”

Junaid had a particular motivation to do well on that tour, given he needed to perform well to ensure he could cement a place in the Pakistan squad.

“Before that tour, I was playing domestic cricket in Faisalabad,” he said. “I had bowled around 35-40 overs in each match, so I had developed momentum heading into the series.

“I was making a comeback in the ODIs and when we were heading to India, I knew in my mind that this is my only chance to stage a strong comeback into the team. I was permanent in the Test team, but had to come back to ODIs. Secondly, I knew if I would perform well in India, I would need to take wickets.”

However, Junaid admitted that Kohli has come leaps and bounds since their clash, and went so far as to rate him higher than the likes of Steve Smith and Kane Williamson. “No doubt Kohli is the best batsman in all three formats,” he said.

“If you ask anyone, they’d say that guys like Babar Azam, Joe Root, Kane Williamson, Steve Smith are the best batsmen of the generation, but on top of the lot is Kohli, because he’s performed outstandingly in all three formats.”

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