Shoaib Akhtar has claimed that he would not let Virat Kohli score so many runs and hundreds had they shared the international stage at the same time. Akhtar and Kohli featured in the India-Pakistan game in the 2010 Asia Cup in Dambulla, but Kohli's early dismissal did not let them go face-to-face.
There would have been a mouth-watering contest if Shoaib Akhtar, one of the most fearsome bowlers of all time, went on to a battle against Virat Kohli, arguably the most successful batsman in modern-day cricket. It had a chance to happen when India faced Pakistan in Dambulla during the 2010 Asia Cup, but Kohli’s early departure by Saeed Ajmal's delivery shattered the hopes.
During the Breakfast with Champions in 2017, Kohli recalled the match and talked about the match-ups, saying: “I’ve never faced Shoaib Akhtar but I’ve seen him in a game in Dambulla against Pakistan. I got out, (so) I couldn’t face him. But I saw him bowl and he looked very lethal even at the later stages of his career. At that time, I felt (that) batsmen would not have wanted to face him when he was at his peak.”
Now, during the IPL 2022 discussion with Sportskeeda, Akhtar came up with his thoughts regarding his battle against Kohli. The Rawalpindi Express claimed that Kohli could not score so many runs if they had played cricket at the same time. In fact, Akhtar said he would not even allow unleashing the best version of Kohli.
“Virat Kohli is a good person and a big cricketer and you only expect big words from big players. And I thank him a lot for that. But, if I would have played against Virat Kohli then he would not have scored these many runs but whatever he would have scored those would have been fabulous and it would look like he really fought hard for those runs. He may not have had 50 centuries. 20 or 25 may at the most but those would have been valiant hundreds. I would have gotten the best out of Virat Kohli,” Akhtar told Sportskeeda.
Till date, Kohli has scored 23, 650 runs in 458 international matches, with 70 hundreds and 122 half-centuries across formats. He is presently the seventh-highest scorer in world cricket and the third-highest among Indians, after Sachin Tendulkar (34,357 runs) and Rahul Dravid (24,208 runs).