Shoaib Akhtar predicts Virat Kohli to play till 44 and score 120 centuries

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Shoaib Akhtar predicts Virat Kohli to play till 44 and score 120 centuries

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SportsCafe Desk

11/22/2017

Shoaib Akhtar has confidently claimed that Virat Kohli will go on to break Sachin Tendulkar’s record of 100 centuries by the time he calls an end to his career. However, the Pakistani pacer was quick to add that Kohli, as of now, had not done enough to be compared to the legendary Tendulkar.

Virat Kohli is arguably the best batsman in the world cricket at the moment and is making a habit of shattering records right, left, and centre. From breaking Don Bradman’s record of double centuries in consecutive series to having an average of over 50 in all three formats of the game, Kohli looks unstoppable at the moment. Many fans and pundits alike have claimed that by the time he hangs up the proverbial boots, the Indian skipper will be the most accomplished batsman of all time. 

He, now, has the backing of yet another cricketing great in the form of Shoaib Akhtar who has claimed that Kohli has placed himself brilliantly to break Tendulkar’s record. While voicing his disappointment of not playing against the Indian skipper, Akhtar admitted that Kohli is the best in the world at the moment. He, however, was adamant that he hadn’t done enough to be compared to his legendary compatriot.

"Virat Kohli is a modern-day great. When it comes to run chases, no one has ever shown a better understanding of pacing an innings. Yes, he has 50 international centuries now. I think he is the only player who can break Tendulkar's record. But there is no pressure on him. He should just go out there and enjoy the game. He should just look after himself,” Shoaib Akhtar told Khaleej Times in an interview.

"If Misbah-ul-Haq can play until 43, I am sure Virat can play until he is 44. If he plays that long and if he continues to score the way he is doing now, I have no doubt that he is the only one who can do it. In fact, he can hit 120 centuries.

"But comparing him to Sachin is not justified. Sachin was an all-time great. In today's era, Virat Kohli is the greatest batsman. It would have been great if I had played against him a bit more. Unfortunately, he was too young towards the end of my career. He only faced one ball from me in Sri Lanka. I was struggling with my knee. Then I remember this young kid with a lot of tattoos in his arm who was shuffling around the crease. But he had a spark and we all discussed about it in the Pakistan dressing room." 

Shoaib Akhtar broke onto the cricket scene in 1997 as a bowler who imposed his will on the game. The sheer pace at which he bowled was enough to put the fear of god into batsmen’s hearts. While he wasn’t as dominant as his compatriots Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis, he was arguably the one who was feared the most in that historic team. 

Akhtar came into world cricket at a time when bowlers commanded extreme respect. Be itGlenn McGrath or Darren Gough, it was an era when every team seemed to have a pacer that could run through any team in the world. Akhtar explained that scoring runs in that era was as challenging as it could have ever been and why he held Tendulkar in such high regard.

"You know when I first came to international cricket, it wasn't easy even for someone like Sachin to play me because I was bowling so quick. When I first played international cricket, Sachin was in his 10th year in international cricket and he had to face me, Glenn McGrath, Wasim, Waqar. But he still went on to score many more hundreds to become the only player to score 100 international centuries. That showed the ability of the man," Akhtar explained. 

Even though India and Pakistan don’t share a cordial relationship in the sporting world at the moment, the Rawalpindi Express said that there was never a lack of respect between the players of the two countries. Akhtar still makes appearances on Indian news channels as an expert during matches and until recently was an active member in the IPL’s panel of analysts. He has also applauded Kohli for his respect towards the game citing the Indian skipper’s visit to the Pakistan team dressing room after losing the ICC Champions Trophy final earlier this year. 

"Even in matches, we must always show respect. It's fine to lose a game. Hats off to Kohli who went to the Pakistan dressing room after the Champions Trophy final and congratulated our players. He spoke very highly of the Pakistan team. You know he is not only a great cricketer, he is a great ambassador for India as well," Akhtar recalled.

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