New Delhi: The first thing that comes to mind when one talks about Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers is their ability to send shivers down the opposition bowlers’ spine with the bat in hand. And thanks to the Indian Premier League, the bonhomie between the two is now as much talked about as their batting skills. It is no secret that they are the best of buddies. But all that is set to change at the Oval on Sunday.
As India and South Africa clash in a virtual quarter-final with the winner moving into the knockouts and the losers heading home, it will be all about going one-up on the other from the moment the two skippers — Kohli and De Villiers — set foot on the field for the toss. It will indeed be interesting to see how the two set about their job in what could be their biggest challenge as captains of their respective national teams.
Interestingly, till Saturday, both Kohli and ABD were quite vocal about the mutual admiration they share for each other’s batting prowess. Speaking to the media on the eve of the match, De Villiers made no bones about the fact that the India skipper is a champion performer and it will not be easy to dismiss him early.
"My take on him (Kohli) is simple really. He is a world class player and it is difficult to stop him when he gets going. Our plan will be to stop him early on in his innings. If you don’t get him out early, he will do some damage. He can really hurt you and take the game away from you," De Villiers said.
Kohli too didn’t need a second invitation when it came to applauding De Villiers. "He's by far the most committed cricketer I've ever seen around, and the reason for that is he is trying to do something extra for his team. I know AB quite well, so I know the reason behind his mindset of playing like that.
"He can come out and when he's in the right frame of mind and it's his day and he's in the mood, then it doesn't matter what he has done in the past games or how many runs he has scored or not scored. If he decides to play the way only he can, you know you have to find a way to get him out pretty quickly," Kohli said.
But then, Kohli also had a warning waiting for his friend. “As a cricketer honestly for me personally, I crave games like this. You want to be part of matches that are as important as this one and then if you perform in that and your team gets across the line, it's a different feeling,” he said.
Clearly, friendship will take a backseat for once as the two friends come out wearing their national colours and with the expectation of their respective nations on their shoulders. Both teams must win this game to stay alive in the competition.