Team India star Virat Kohli is enjoying a sensational 2023 World Cup. With 543 runs in eight matches so far, Kohli is India’s highest – and third-highest overall – scorer in the tournament, and will be aiming at reclaiming the top spot when the side faces Netherlands in its final group match this Sunday. With two centuries and four fifties to his name in the tournament so far, Kohli has once again shown just why he’s counted among the greatest in modern-day cricket; he solidified his claim to the same last week, when he smashed a record-equalling 49th ODI century during India’s match against South Africa.
Naturally, Kohli has many admirers among the cricket community as well, and West Indies’ batting great Vivian Richards has now spoken expressed his high regard for the India star. Calling Kohli a “credit” to the game of cricket, Richards lauded the Indian maestro’s ability to emerge unscathed from the most difficult situations, thanks to his incredible mental strength. Kohli went without a century for nearly three years, starting November 2019, and even took a break from the sport to recharge his batteries before coming back to slam his maiden T20I ton against Afghanistan in the Asia Cup last year.
Since September 2022, Kohli has hit 9 centuries including two at the World Cup, and has 79 tons in international cricket, which makes him second only to fellow India great Sachin Tendulkar (100 centuries).
“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 told the ICC.
Richards also spoke in detail about the criticism Kohli received during his lean patch, stating that one “cannot look past” the India star. It is worth noting that even when Kohli didn’t score a hundred during the near-three year period between November 2019 and September 2022, the India star continued to score consistent 50+ scores; he had 10 half-centuries each in T20Is and ODIs, and six such scores in the Test format throughout this time.
“Virat will have been through some tough times before this World Cup and some folks were even brave enough to call for his head.
“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.”
In the wake of Kohli’s remarkable performances, inevitable comparisons arise with the legendary ‘Sir Viv’, the charismatic showman from the bygone era. Richards attributes these comparisons to the shared intensity both players brought to the cricket field.
“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,” said Richards.