Image courtesy of: Zimbio
South Africa captain AB de Villiers has branded his Indian counterpart Virat Kohli as the best player in international cricket.
De Villiers’ comments come after India reached the final of the Champions Trophy, where they will take on arch-rivals Pakistan at The Oval on Sunday.
Kohli has excelled with the bat during the tournament as he has scored 253 runs, which includes three half-centuries, in four matches at an eye-popping average of 253.
Furthermore, in his side’s semi-final win over Bangladesh, Kohli made history by becoming the fastest player to score 8,000 ODI runs.
“He has been blessed with wonderful natural talent but, as ever among high achievers, his talent is underpinned by a willingness to work hard,” De Villiers wrote in his column for the BBC on Saturday.
De Villiers also admitted that he was impressed with Kohli’s ability to score runs and maintain a strong captaincy record.
“Beyond the golden talent and the iron determination, Virat has learned how to cope with the pressures of his exalted position,” he added. “If you drive into almost any city in India, you will see his face appear on every other billboard.
“Being the most marketable and possibly the most popular personality in a nation of 1.3bn people brings its own pressures: he simply cannot move without being begged for a ‘selfie’ and his every move, word and even gesture is relentlessly reported in print, electronic and social media.
“Twitter whirred when he stuck out his tongue to celebrate a wicket against Bangladesh. Virat has learned to live with these realities.”
De Villiers, who plays alongside Kohli for the Royal Challengers Bangalore in the Indian Premier League (IPL), pointed out that the 28-year-old has learnt to control his emotions over the last couple of years.
Kohli is known for having a hot temper, but De Villiers confirmed that the Delhi native is beginning to channel his anger through a more witty personality.
“Intense and serious in matches and at practice, he retains the invaluable ability to switch off from the game, relaxing, laughing and joking at every opportunity,” he wrote. “He enjoys calling people by playful nicknames and he can find humour in almost every situation.”