Shoaib Akhtar, a former Pakistan pacer was rich in his praise for India skipper Virat Kohli for instilling aggression in his fast bowlers and for changing the mentality of Indian cricket.
In an exclusive interview with Sportskeeda, Shoaib Akhtar shared his thoughts on India’s evolved pace attack over the last few years.
Shoaib Akhtar Thinks Virat Kohli Has Done A Wonderful Job As A Captain
So far, Virat Kohli has represented his side in 92 Tests, 254 ODIs, and 90 T20Is, scoring 7547, 12169, and 3159 runs respectively. He is the only player to average above 50 across all the formats. But the batsman is yet to score a ton in any format since his 136 against Bangladesh at Eden Gardens in November 2019. His century drought continued but he will look to make amends in the upcoming 5 Tests against hosts England.
“I think Virat (Kohli) has done a wonderful job as a captain. I said it to Anushka Sharma in a Sony show-‘I think Virat is making a mistake by being a captain. I knew there was a tremendous amount of pressure on him and it would bog him down.”
“In a country like India with a population of a billion, there are around 20,000 TV sets and channels, enough to slam him. In my mind, I was thinking, “he’s a young kid, let him score runs and play his game.”
In a way, the 45-year-old was glad to be proved wrong. In the interview, he credited Virat Kohli for instilling the aggression a tearaway pacer needed.
“He [Kohli] took up that challenge of being a skipper. He took it on and made sure that his replica was instilled within the fast bowlers. He wants to see his aggression in his fast bowlers. He’s not actually a Virat Kohli on the field, he is a fast bowler running in the form of an Ishant Sharma or a Bhuvneshwar Kumar or [Mohammed] Shami.”- Shoaib Akhtar
As a bowling unit, Virat Kohli wants his bowlers in the likes of Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, Ishant Sharma, and Ravichandran Ashwin to take twenty wickets and has changed the mentality of Indian cricket.
Shoaib Akhtar Was Feared By Batsmen Across The World For Generating Express Pace While Virat Kohli Is Yet To Win An ICC Trophy As Skipper
Shoaib Akhtar was undoubtedly one of the fastest bowlers in international cricket and his 178 Test wickets and 247 ODI scalps bear proof of his calibre. Known for his ferocious pace, intense aggression, and his ability to provide regular breakthroughs at important critical junctures in the game, he was often seen as the main threat by the opposition batsmen.
He headlined news across the world for bowling a delivery at 161.3 km/h (100.23 mph), in an ODI against England during the 2003 Cricket World Cup. Shoaib Akhtar was nicknamed the “Rawalpindi Express” for his breakneck speed. He was also the first bowler to be recorded bowling at 100 miles per hour and did so twice during his career.
Virar Kohli, who was handed the reins for the final Test match against Australia on the 2014-15 tour, has led India in 61 Tests which is the most by an Indian skipper so far. Under Virat Kohli, India has won 36 Test matches.
In the One Day Internationals, Team India has registered 65 victories from the 95 matches. Virat Kohli has captained the T20I side 45 times, and India has won 27 matches. Under Virat Kohli, India has been the most consistent Test side over the past five years.
Under Virat Kohli, India has come close thrice to lift an ICC Trophy – the Champions Trophy in 2017, the 2019 World Cup, and most recently, the WTC final – but have stumbled at the final hurdle. Royal Challengers Bangalore, Virat Kohli’s franchise is also yet to win IPL but finished as runners up on three occasions between 2009 and 2016. They were runners up in 2009,2011 and 2016-the last of which came under Virat Kohli.