Former Pakistan fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar asserted that the nationalities of Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma and other Indian players will not stop him from praising them. Akhtar stated that people criticizing him for praising Indian cricketers should check statistics without hatred in mind.
Pakistan fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar is as outspoken as any cricket expert and never fears anyone when it comes to expressing his opinion, even if it goes against the general norms. Given the border tensions surrounding bitter rivals India and Pakistan, cricket, at a lot of times, is politicized in both the countries, and people start making assessments of players on the basis of nationality rather than much cricket facts and logic. But Akhtar refuses to toe the line of what is a popular practice of discrimination in both countries.
In a recent interaction with Cricket Pakistan, the 44-year-old said that no 'Pakistani' cricketer even comes close to Indian skipper Virat Kohli. Akhtar believes that people should rise above hatred and check the stats of Indian players before questioning and criticizing him for praising Indian cricketers.
“Why should I not praise Indian players and Virat Kohli? Is there any player in Pakistan, or all over the world, which comes close to Kohli? I don’t know why people are angry, they should go look at the stats first before criticising me. Do they want to keep the hatred in mind, that just because he is an Indian, we will not praise him?” Akhtar told Cricket Pakistan.
The Rawalpindi-born cricketer turned analyst further stated that no one has more international hundreds than Kohli at present and it's a no-brainer to praise Kohli or Rohit given how good they are.
“Kohli has 70 international hundreds right now. Who else has this many hundreds right now in international cricket? How many series has he won for India? Should I not praise him then? This is very strange. We all can see clearly he is the biggest batsmen in the world. He and Rohit Sharma are performing all the time. Why shouldn’t we praise them?” Akhtar further said.
Few days back, Akhtar had hit the headlines after terming Babar Azam a 'lost cow' after Pakistan lost the second T20I in England. Pakistan, eventually, won the final T20I and ended the three-match T20I series 1-1.