West Indian batting legend Sir Vivian Richards lavished praise on India’s talismanic batter Virat Kohli, calling him one ‘all-time greats’ of the game alongside ‘Master Blaster’ Sachin Tendulkar. Further retrenching himself in cricketing folklore and adding another feather to his cap, the batting superstar brought up his 49th ODI century in an earlier World Cup clash with South Africa at the iconic Eden Gardens in Kolkata. The ton also saw Kohli equal his childhood idol Tendulkar’s world record for most hundreds in the 50-over format.
The batting talisman has amassed a total of 543 runs in the ongoing World Cup 2023 at an average of 108.60.
Richards, widely acknowledged as one of the greatest to have played the game, heaped praise on Kohli in an article on the official website of the International Cricket Council (ICC).
“There have been a whole host of talented individuals on show but to top them all, you cannot look past Virat Kohli. I am a huge fan of Virat, I have been for a long time, and he continues to show why he has to go down as one of the all-time greats, right up there with the likes of the great Sachin,” Richards wrote on the ICC portal.
The two-time World Cup champion also complimented India’s support staff and management for standing behind Kohli during his difficult two-year period.
“Virat will have been through some tough times before this World Cup and some folks were even brave enough to call for his head. Credit must be given to the backroom staff and everyone who backed him. So much was said about his form but he is back on top of his game. It is phenomenal to see an individual who has had his low points bouncing back and playing like this. They say form is temporary – and he has certainly proven that class is permanent. I am so happy for him, he looks so focused and he is a credit to the game of cricket,” the Windies great added in his column.
He also complimented Kohli for his mental toughness, calling it “the key attribute that distinguishes the star batter from the rest”.
Riding on Kohli’s batting exploits, combined with significant contributions from others, India have gone unbeaten across eight matches in the ongoing ODI World Cup and currently sit atop the points table.
“Many people have made comparisons between the two of us over the years, partly because of our shared intensity on the field. I love Virat’s enthusiasm – even if he is fielding at long-on or long-off when one of his bowlers hits the pad, he is appealing. He is always in the game and I like individuals like that,” Richards wrote in his column.
Kohli’s unrivalled record in successful run chases, where he averages a magnificent 90.40 with 23 hundreds, not only demonstrates his mental fortitude and perseverance but also makes him an undisputed modern-day batting great.
“Virat is a go-getter and what sets him apart is his mental strength. He will have backed himself throughout, and on the occasions in the past in which I have chatted with him and we have discussed things, his mental strength has always been evident. That has been key to pushing him through to how he is playing now. Very few players, or people, are built like that,” Richards added.
Having already secured a berth in the final four on account of its unbeaten run, Team India is likely to face New Zealand in the semifinal.
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