Virat Kohli is on a century spree. The Indian captain has scored two centuries in three ODIs against South Africa in 2018 and his innings of 160* in 159 balls in Cape Town gave his side an unassailable 3-0 lead in the series. Former Pakistani batsman Shahid Afridi, who recently led his team to a clean-sweep 2-0 victory against Virender Sehwag’s XI in St Moritz Ice Cricket Tournament, praised Kohli on his captaincy. Speaking to news agency PTI, the 37-year old said, “Virat is doing a brilliant job. I have no problem with aggression if it is a controlled one. And Virat’s character is different from Mahendra Singh Dhoni, who was a composed individual,” he said.
Afridi, who was known for his dynamic nature during his cricketing days, added that Kohli can take the team along with him. “Now suddenly, you cannot change the inherent nature of a person. Virat’s greatest asset is that he can take the team along,” the former allrounder added.
Kohli, who is currently leading India in the on-going 6-match ODI series against South Africa, has played against Shahid Afridi before the Pakistani cricketer announced his retirement. Speaking on his relations with the Indian skipper, Afridi said, “My relationship with Virat is not dictated by the political situation. Virat is a fantastic human being and an ambassador of cricket for his country, just like I am for my country. He (Kohli) has always shown a lot of respect and has even gone out of his way to present a signed jersey for my foundation (Shahid Afridi Foundation),” the veteran said.
In spite of the ongoing political tensions between the two countries, Afridi said that he and Kohli share a warm relation. “There is a lot of warmth and fellow-feeling whenever I have spoken to Virat. It’s not that we get a chance to speak a lot but from time to time, he would drop in a message and I would do the same. I congratulated him recently when I came to know he was getting married,” he said.
Afridi added that he and the Indian cricketer can set an example for the two countries. “I believe as cricketers we can set examples of how relationship between individuals can be a template for relationship between countries. I think after Pakistan, the two countries where I have received most love and respect are India and Australia,” he said.
On being questioned about comparing Kohli with Pakistan captain Sarfraz Khan, Afridi said, “Sarfraz is still new to the job and he will only get better along the way. The only thing I don’t like is that media running down players during their rough times. As long as you are winning, everything is fine and you lose a game and all hell breaks loose. That is grossly unfair. We should not overlook someone’s past achievements just because he is going through a bad patch.”
India will play the 4th ODI against South Africa at Wanderers in Johannesburg on Saturday.