LONDON: India captain Virat Kohli leads his team into today’s Champions Trophy final against bitter rivals Pakistan with South African star AB de Villiers labelling him “the outstanding cricketer in the world”.
Kohli, 28, moved to the top of the one-day international batting rankings this week as three half-centuries in the tournament have taken his total runs in the 50-over format to 8,008 at an average of 54.07.
De Villiers characterised Kohli, who struck an unbeaten 76 in last Sunday’s eight-wicket win over South Africa, as “being a consummate surgeon at the crease”.
“He has been blessed with wonderful natural talent but, as ever among high achievers, his talent is underpinned by a willingness to work hard,” wrote De Villiers in his column for the BBC yesterday.
De Villiers, who endured a disappointing tournament in charge of the number one ranked side, says Kohli is also able to cope with the extreme pressure that comes with being captain of the Indian cricket team.
“Beyond the golden talent and the iron determination, Virat has learned how to cope with the pressures of his exalted position,” said De Villiers, who was dismissed for his first golden duck in ODI cricket in a loss to Pakistan last week.
“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.”