Men’s ODI WC: Virat Kohli is proving his status as one of the all-time greats, says Sir Viv Richards

New Delhi: Legendary West Indies batter Sir Viv Richards has been left in awe of Virat Kohli’s performances in the 2023 Men’s ODI World Cup, saying the talismanic India batter is proving his status as one of the all-time batting greats alongside Sachin Tendulkar.

At the Eden Gardens in Kolkata, Kohli equalled Tendulkar’s record of 49 ODI centuries with a brilliant 101 not out against South Africa on his 35th birthday, as India won by 243 runs to keep its winning run going. Kohli now has a total of 543 runs at this edition of the Men’s ODI World Cup at a gigantic average of 108.60.

“There have been a whole host of talented individuals on show but to top them all, you cannot look past Virat Kohli. I am a huge fan of Virat, I have been for a long time, and he continues to show why he has to go down as one of the all-time greats, right up there with the likes of the great Sachin. Virat will have been through some tough times before this World Cup and some folks were even brave enough to call for his head,” wrote Richards in his column for the ICC.

He also credited the Indian team support staff for supporting Kohli through his phase of having a lean run with the bat, while applauding the right-handed batter’s mental tenacity.

“Credit must be given to the backroom staff and everyone who backed him. So much was said about his form but he is back on top of his game. It is phenomenal to see an individual who has had his low points bouncing back and playing like this. They say form is temporary – and he has certainly proven that class is permanent.”

“I am so happy for him, he looks so focused and he is a credit to the game of cricket. Virat is a go-getter and what sets him apart is his mental strength. He will have backed himself throughout, and on the occasions in the past in which I have chatted with him and we have discussed things, his mental strength has always been evident. That has been key to pushing him through to how he is playing now. Very few players, or people, are built like that.”

Talking about his comparisons with Virat, Richards said, “Many people have made comparisons between the two of us over the years, partly because of our shared intensity on the field. I love Virat’s enthusiasm – even if he is fielding at long-on or long-off when one of his bowlers hits the pad, he is appealing. He is always in the game and I like individuals like that.”

The legendary batter was also impressed with opener Shubman Gill’s performances and also expects India, currently on top of the table with eight wins in as many matches, to go all the way to the trophy through its attacking approach. After missing the first two matches of the World Cup due to dengue, Gill has amassed 219 runs from six innings.

“Shubman Gill is another who bats with style and he is just one among a whole host of players who have all the big shots. I am just hoping no one forgets there was a guy without a helmet by the name of Vivian Richards who went out and played like that sometimes!”

“In terms of this year’s competition, India have a mindset that they can go all the way playing like this. That absolutely should be their mindset and would be mine if I were in that dressing room – let’s go out with all guns blazing. That approach has worked so far and if that changes, things may go astray.”

“I believe they can go all the way unbeaten, which is really something to strive for. There may be some fears of ‘we have played so well so far, there may be a bad game around the corner in the semi-final’. They have to try and nullify those and banish any negative thoughts,” he concluded. – IANS

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