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Kohli, the Only One Who Comes Anywhere Close to Tendulkar, says Saqlain Mushtaq

PTI | Updated: August 27, 2018, 3:49 PM IST
Kohli, the Only One Who Comes Anywhere Close to Tendulkar, says Saqlain Mushtaq

Sachin Tendulkar and Virat Kohli. (Getty Images)

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Having been part of many enthralling duels with Sachin Tendulkar and watched the maestro from close quarters former Pakistan great Saqlain Mushtaq reckons Virat Kohli is the only current player who comes close to matching the standards of his legendary contemporary.

"As a batsman, Sachin was a very big player. I cannot compare (two eras) but today Virat is the only one who comes close," Saqlain said.

Down 2-1 in the series Saqlain, who is part of the England support staff as a spin consultant opined that India's turnaround in the five-match series would largely boil down to how Kohli leads the batting line-up.

"We were talking amongst the English support staff about how he (Kohli) played at Trent Bridge," said Saqlain. "In this third Test alone, Jimmy Anderson beat his outside edge 40 times, and yet he played the next ball with so much confidence. Virat plays ball by ball, run by run and session by session.

"He has a tremendous hunger for runs and victory. When you have someone hungry like that, he can do anything to satisfy his hunger."

Captain Kohli led the way with scores of 97 and 103 as India staged a comeback in the series with a rollicking 2013-run victory in the third Test at Trent Bridge. In doing so, Kohli set straight his poor record from 2014 where he could manage just 134 runs in 10 innings. And Saqlain just stopped short of calling him Tendulkar's equal.

"The way Virat is scoring runs, it is ominous for England. During the first Test, I saw a signboard that said it is 'England versus Virat Kohli'. If you take him out of the equation, it will be very easy for England," asserted Saqlain.

"If you see from a coaching point of view, it is because of him the others have scored runs whilst batting with him. Having a world class batsman like Virat in your team certainly boosts the entire batting line-up.

"India finally showed why they are number one Test side, especially with Virat leading from the front. I don't know how the series will pan out, but in both the next Tests, conditions will be heavily factored in.

Having played against many Indian sides that were pivoted on singular pace attack leaders, Mushtaq also said that he was mighty impressed by the new crop of Indian pace bowlers who have caused the South African and English batsmen a lot of trouble in the last six Tests.

"If you look at the statistics from the first three Tests, India's pacers have bowled quicker than English pacers. When did that last happen? The way they walk, and present themselves, the way they bowl fast and move the ball, you look at the Indian pacers and think that they are proper fast bowlers.

"They have a lot of physical strength, and it shows in their walking and running. It signals that they have put in the proper hard work to become fast bowlers at this level and they appear professional in every sense of the word."

The legendary off-spinner spoke about R Ashwin too, the spin element for India in this current Test series.

"Today, he is a world-class spinner. I remember four or five years ago, I spoke that he is a good bowler but not yet a world-class bowler. Back then, I saw potential in him. But it was important for him to play outside India, perform and learn, and only then he would be a ready bowler.

"I think that has happened, and we can see that in the way Ashwin has bowled in this series. The way he is controlling the ball at present, its shape coming out of hand, pace and trajectory shaping up, setting up and trapping left-handed batsmen.

"When I talk to young spinners, I tell them they have to trap different batsmen in different ways. When Ashwin is bowling, you can see he has different plans for different batsmen, and he is working them out. For someone like me who lives in the world of spin, it is enthralling to watch," he signed off.
First Published: August 27, 2018, 3:49 PM IST
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