Calcutta: “Virat (Kohli) is destined to make and break records... He’s not the type to set the pace, he’ll try and win the race himself... That’s Virat... Watch out for him!”
High praise from no less than Kapil Dev, India’s first World Cup-winning captain and a legendary all-rounder.
Speaking to The Telegraph on Thursday afternoon, the day after Virat authored a fantastic 119 at the Wanderers, Kapil added: “Virat’s already got a Test hundred in Australia (116 in Adelaide, 22 months ago) and I expect him to now take his batting to another level...
“Some cricketers straightaway come across as special and Virat’s one of them... Provided he doesn’t have fitness issues, he’s the next big one among batsmen. Sure, Virat’s settled in beautifully at No.4, Sachin Tendulkar’s position, but he could bat even at No.3.”
Kapil did comment on the Cheteshwar Pujara run out, with Virat being the culprit. “Misunderstandings happen... They’re part and parcel of the game. The cricketers involved have to move on.”
Virat’s Adelaide hundred was his first in the oldest and longest format, but the turning point for him came in the previous Test of that series — in Perth.
India got hammered, but Virat’s 75 in the second innings was character-packed and, well, he hasn’t looked back since.
Be it in Tests or ODIs.
An U-19 World Cup-winning captain, Virat has the qualities of a leader and, so, in years to come he’ll have to be watched on two fronts.
Virat has, of course, captained India in ODIs in a stand-in capacity.
Meanwhile, former Pakistan captain and an outstanding batsman of yesteryears, Hanif Mohammed, applauded Virat in an email to this Reporter.
It read: “Virat’s the best possible candidate for Sachin’s No.4 and he’s made a statement... I enjoyed his innings and I hope he stays as humble as the person whose position he has taken... Virat’s there to serve India for long.”
Hanif, who stays in Karachi, is into his sixth cycle of adjuvant chemotherapy. It began on Tuesday, at the premier Aga Khan Hospital there.
Surgery and the chemo cycles have forced Hanif, who turns 79 on Sunday, to largely stay indoors. But it’s fine with him as he can watch cricket telecasts from across the globe.
For Hanif, cricket has been his “life.”