Former Pakistan fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar has backed Virat Kohli to overcome testing times and bounce back as he urged the former India captain to put behind the captaincy saga and focus on his batting.
Speaking exclusively to Sports Tak from Oman, Shoaib Akhtar, who is plying his trade for Asaia Lions in the Legends League Cricket, said there are “lobbies against him” and that is the reason he quit captaincy of the senior national team.
Akhtar, who is known for speaking his mind, highlighted that Kohli may be angry over the recent developments but his anger should be focused on delivering with the bat and not snowball into bitterness. He added that Kohli needs to understand that he is a great of the game and that he is capable of scoring even 50 more hundreds at the international level.
“It was a tight scenario for Virat. I was in Dubai and I was aware that if he wouldn’t have won the T20 World Cup, it would have become a big problem for him and it did happen. There are lobbies against him and there are people against him and that is the reason why he stepped down,” Akhtar told India Today.
“Whoever enjoys the star status, will always face problems but there’s nothing to fear about. Anushka (Kohli’s wife) is a very nice lady and Virat is a great guy. He just needs to be brave and not be afraid of anything. The whole country loves him, just that these are testing times for him and he needs to come strongly out of it.”
Akhtar’s comments come after Virat Kohli stepped down as India’s Test captain following a series defeat in South Africa earlier this month. Kohli’s decision to quit the Test leadership role comes weeks after he was sacked as ODI captain.
Kohli kicked up a storm when he alleged that there was miscommunication between him and the BCCI over his decision to quit T20I captaincy in September last year. Kohli also alleged that he was informed about the selectors’ decision to remove him as ODI captain only 90 minutes before a selection meeting to pick India’s Test team for the South Africa tour.
Notably, the BCCI had announced the decision to remove Kohli as India’s ODI captain with a single-line statement in their press release to announce the Test squad on December 8.
Kohli even contradicted BCCI president Sourav Ganguly’s claims, that the latter had urged him to not step down as T20I captain while addressing a fiery press conference before Team India left for South Africa in December.
India Today reported earlier this week that Ganguly wanted to issue a show-cause notice to Kohli to clarify the comments he made in the explosive press conference.
Virat Kohli quit Test captaincy in January 2022 (AP Photo)
KOHLI SHOULD FORGET AND FORGIVE PEOPLE: AKHTAR
Meanwhile, Akhtar added that Kohli has to work hard and focus all his energy in doing well with the bat for India.
“Now that it has happened, he needs to work hard now and not work too hard. Keep it simple and just play his normal cricket. Captaincy is not an easy job – you have to handle a lot of things and there is a lot of tension that comes with that job.
“Now that he is off the hook, he just has to make sure that he enjoys his cricket. He is great and he should know that. He just has to enhance his value. He should know that he can’t be imprisoned of his own bitterness. He should forget and forgive people and will become an even better human.” Akhtar added.
“If he can give good performances in the next five-six months, he will be happy to have quit captaincy and would tell himself that he can score 120 international hundreds.
“His next 50 centuries will be because of the anger that he has now. And, this anger does not have to be reflected on people but in his batting,” Akhtar added.
Virat Kohli began a new chapter in his career by hitting a fifty in his first match as non-captain of India for the first time in more than 5 years. His fifty ended in vain as India lost the ODI series opener to South Africa in Paarl.
Kohli was dismissed for 0 in the 2nd ODI, leading to questions over his body language in South Africa.