Off The Field

Akhtar backs Kohli to score 120 international centuries

Written by Vipin Darwade

Pakistan bowling legend Shoaib Akhtar has shared his views on the constant comparisons being drawn between modern-day cricket’s two icons – Virat Kohli and Babar Azam.

On one hand, there is Indian captain King Kohli who never gets tired of smashing the leather around the park to achieve new heights in the sport while on the other is Babar, who leads Pakistan across formats.

Kohli has 70 international centuries to his credit. Babar has also been among runs for his side and has emerged as a strong competitor to the Indian captain.

Akhtar very clearly stated that the whole idea of a debate between the two great batters is redundant and absolutely wrong in the first place as there is a huge gap between their run-scoring records. He considers Kohli to be one of the world’s leading run-getters and believes that there is a considerable amount of time left before Babar could reach the same milestone as his Indian counterpart.

Pakistan’s Rawalpindi Express further opined that Babar is definitely one of the most promising batsmen among the current crop of players in international cricket and for one, he can be included in the top five list of the best batsmen from the present generation along with Kohli, Joe Root, Kane Williamson, and Steve Smith.

However, to say that Babar can compete with Kohli at the top right away is a far-fetched thought and could be unfair to Pakistan’s captain as he is seven years younger than Kohli and started his international career in 2015.

Babar has a lot of cricket and many, many more centuries to be scored for Pakistan ahead of him for his name to be justified in all the debates that are doing the rounds.

On the flipside, Akhtar has predicted Kohli to surmount 30 more centuries in the next five years to break the current record of the Master Blaster himself Sachin Tendulkar, who scored 100 hundreds in international cricket.

“Virat has what… 70 centuries in international cricket right. So in the next five years, he will get 30 more and I want him to get 120 centuries, or at least 110. See, with these many runs, who can be compared to him? The debate in itself is wrong. And Babar is now coming through. It’s really good that there is healthy competition,” he told Sports Tak.

So in the chase of working towards that goal, Akhtar feels Babar may at least become Pakistan’s greatest ever batsman provided he keeps his head on his shoulders and stands his ground as motivated as his India rival.

“If Babar needs to beat Virat and surpass him, he will have to score more runs chasing and play the kind of innings Kohli has. There is no doubt that Babar Azam can probably be the greatest batsman of Pakistan, but it will take time. We will judge Kohli and Babar after 10 years where they stand,” said Akhtar.

About the author

Vipin Darwade