What’s the story?
West Indies legend Sir Vivian Richards backed Indian skipper Virat Kohli over his confrontational style of captaincy claiming that the 28-year-old is leading a spirited group of individuals who are more than ready to give it their all when it comes to playing competitive cricket.
Speaking to The Times of India in an exclusive interview, the former hard-hitting batsman likened Kohli to his younger self and praised Kohli for not backing down on his principles in the hotly contested Test series against Australia which India won 2-1.
Extra Cover: Virat Kohli vs Viv Richards: An ODI comparison
“I was confrontational,” he said. “If you got on my face, I’d fight back. That’s why I enjoy Virat because I see some similarities to our behavioural pattern.”
Richards also expressed confidence that Kohli would be back among the runs sooner rather than later after his lean run against Australia in which he scored only 46 runs in 3 Tests before being ruled out of the final Test with a shoulder injury.
“Every batsman goes through a bad period. We just need to turn our minds to his performance in Australia. The team better watch out for him in the next series that he plays, because he’s good enough to amend all the failures he would have previously had,” he said.
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The series Richards is referring to was Kohli’s performances Down Under in 2014/15 when he scored 4 Test tons in as many matches. He was heading into the series on the back of a miserable tour overseas against England in which he failed to register a single half-century in the 5-Test series against Alastair Cook’s side which the visitors lost 4-1.
The series not only saw Kohli silencing the critics who questioned his ability to play the moving ball but it also saw the fiery cricketer take the game to the opposition with his aggressive attitude.
That attitude has not mellowed down in spite of Kohli taking over the mantle of Indian captaincy across all three formats from MS Dhoni – much to Richards’ liking.
The heart of the matter
The recently concluded Test series between India and Australia made the headlines not just for the competitive cricket played by the two teams but also the ill-tempered nature of sledging that often crossed the boundaries of what can be termed as acceptable behaviour on the field.
The war of words continued off the field as well with Kohli making it a point to let his views known during the various press conferences spanning across the length of the series with his reply to his Australian counterpart’s”brain fade” comments the obvious highlight.
While some pundits feel Kohli was at fault for allowing controversial events to drag on with his comments on and off the field, Richards praised the Indian skipper for not taking the back foot when Australia tried to sledge their way past them.
The 65-year-old felt Kohli was well within his right to go toe-to-toe with Steven Smith’s side and also appreciated the former for not hampering the spirit of the game in his attempt to do so.
Kohli made his way back to the field after recovering from injury in style by smashing 62 in his comeback game for Royal Challengers Bangalore against Mumbai Indians in the ongoing 10th edition of the IPL.
The RCB skipper’s next international assignment will be the Champions Trophy to be held in England.
Sir Vivian Richards is a true legend and icon of the sport of cricket and a man truly ahead of his times. He let his bat do the talking more often than not but was never one to shy away when the opposition tried to bully him.
Virat Kohli has the mix of both in abundance and is already on the way to becoming a future legend of the game. There's little surprise then that Richards admires the Indian skipper so greatly and it is imperative that India needs a captain like him to not back down when the opposition tries to undermine the talent at their disposal with a confrontational style of play.