Virat Kohli on received the biggest compliment of his cricket career with West Indies batting legend Sir Vivian Richards saying the talented Indian batsman reminds him of his own batting.
"I love watching Virat Kohli bat. He looks to me like an individual of my own heart. I love his aggression and serious passion that I used to have. He reminds me of myself," Richards said.
"He is an individual who doesn't back off from confrontation. Someone who can stand his ground under pressure. I love that as you can't teach these instinctive aspects," Richards told PTI in an exclusive interview on Thursday.
The 61-year-old Richards, regarded as one of the greatest batsmen in the game's history, said that even while fielding, Kohli is a lot like him. "Just like me, he loves the ball to come to him. He wants to dive, stop the runs. He is a livewire unlike some fielders, who would just dig a hole and dive in it rather than dive to stop the ball!" he said.
Asked whether Kohli will be the 'flag bearer' of Indian batting once Sachin Tendulkar retired, Richards sounded positive. "I believe till the Master of Shaolin (Tendulkar) is there, you need to give him respect. Obviously, once Sachin retires, you can bank on Kohli as he is young enough and has a lot of time on his side. He will only improve and continue to get better," he explained.
While Richards is a great fan of skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni's cool approach, he did not forget to mention that the Indian team needs to win on overseas soil regularly. "What a way to come back against the Aussies (in the recent Test series at home). But for me, the determining factor of how good you are is when you win anywhere. You don't have to wait until you play at home to beat your opponent."
"I agree that it's vital to defend home turf but it's crucial to win outside," Richards said, making no bones about what he felt about Team India's recent performances.
"For me, it used to give me immense pride to perform away from home. Look at Steve Waugh's team or Ricky Ponting's team till a certain point of time. They were great teams because they won in all conditions. That I believe was the essence of 'Fire in Babylon' (Documentary on West Indies cricket)."
'King Richards' was also forthright in pointing out that India's away Test series in South Africa at the end of the year would be a tough assignment. "It's going to be tough. South Africa are the best Test nation in the world at the moment with the most successful and aggressive bowling attack (Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel, Vernon Philander). You saw what happened to Pakistan a few months back. It will be the ultimate test," he said.
"But Dhoni is one of the coolest individual and I liked the way he got his job done during the recent Australia series. But having won 4-0, people may expect more in South Africa, which is a huge ask. But if they can collectively work together, they can keep hopes alive," he said.
Asked what would have been his auction price had he been playing in the IPL era, Richards jokingly said "may be one Pound!"
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