Shoaib Akhtar: I want Kohli to retire from T20Is
Virat Kohli produced perhaps his best innings in T20I cricket in India’s T20 World Cup 2022 opener against Pakistan in Melbourne on Sunday, his unbeaten 82 off 53 helping the side secure a thrilling last-ball win in a crucial Super 12s encounter.
Kohli lifted India from 31/4 in their run-chase of 160, and struck crucial sixes when the equation was down to 28 required off eight, before acing the chase in the final over. Shoaib Akhtar, who has been vocal of support and admiration for Kohli in the past, lauded the former India captain for his masterclass.
“According to me, he played the greatest innings of his life against Pakistan. He played like this because he had the self belief that he will do it,” Akhtar said on his YouTube channel.
“He was down and out for 3 years, he didn’t score runs, he was stripped of his captaincy and a lot of people said a lot of things to him. People even dragged his family into it but he kept training and put in the graft and just a day before Diwali, he played a firecracker on an innings. He decided that this place and this stage is perfect for his comeback. The king is back and he is back with a bang and I am really happy for him. He is a great cricketer.”
However, the former Pakistan quick made a rather surprise comment, asking for Kohli to retire from the shortest format.
“I want him to retire from T20I because I don’t want him to put his entire energy into T20I cricket. If he used all his might like he did today, he can score three centuries in ODIs,” Akhtar said.
Akhtar, who represented Pakistan in 46 Tests, 163 ODIs and 15 T20Is between 1997 and 2011, acknowledged the Babar Azam led side for their brilliance in a hard-fought contest.
“Pakistan, don’t lose heart,” he said. “You played really well. Iftikhar, I have criticised you but you have played a brilliant innings. Shan Masood, you were brilliant. Naseem Shah, you were absolutely great and Shaheen, you work on your fitness because you are not fully fit.”