Kohli is at the peak of his powers, says de Villiers

India, Pakistan, ICC Champions Trophy 2017, Virat Kohli

In his special column for BCC, South Africa legend AB de Villiers was all praise for India skipper and his Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) teammate Virat Kohli ahead of his team’s much-anticipated Sunday’s showdown against arch-rivals Pakistan. De Villiers stressed the importance of Kohli’s wicket for Pakistan, saying he is a “consummate surgeon” while at the crease.

“India’s batting order is decorated with many brilliant talents, but the Pakistan bowlers will realise the paramount importance of controlling Virat on Sunday. He is a consummate surgeon at the crease, intensely focused, working hard, playing the ball into gaps in the field and staying calm under pressure. He is always judging the right time to consolidate and the right time to seize a game by the scruff of the neck.” de Villiers wrote for BBC.

“At 28, he is at the peak of his powers, surely the outstanding cricketer in the world today. So he continues to thrive, and so his Indian team continue to enjoy remarkably consistent success at ICC tournaments.”

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The Proteas skipper lauded Kohli’s skill set as a batsman, energy on the field, and relentless work ethic and said he is privileged to have played alongside him in the last six Indian Premier League (IPL).

“I have been privileged to play alongside him in the last six Indian Premier League tournaments and, as his team-mate at Royal Challengers Bangalore, have seen at first hand not only his extraordinary skill as a batsman but also the energy and intensity that he brings to the game.” he said.

“Unseen, he is determined and relentless in training, remaining in the nets as long as necessary to ensure he feels comfortable with every aspect of his game. I have watched him rehearse his strokes over and over again, until sweat is pouring from his brow, never stopping until he is satisfied.

“Intense and serious in matches and at practice, he retains the invaluable ability to switch off from the game, relaxing, laughing and joking at every opportunity.”While some of his team-mates are getting frustrated and struggling to be patient and composed, Virat will find something funny and deftly defuse the situation.”

De Villiers also said Kohli, who scored a classy 76 in India’s last Sunday’s eight-wicket win over South Africa, is able to handle the extreme pressure that comes with being captain of India team.

“Beyond the golden talent and the iron determination, Virat has learned how to cope with the pressures of his exalted position,” said De Villiers, who was dismissed for his first golden duck in ODI cricket in a loss to Pakistan last week.

Read: I can take South Africa to World Cup win, says de Villiers

“If you drive into almost any city in India, you will see his face appear on every other billboard.

“Being the most marketable and possibly the most popular personality in a nation of 1.3bn people brings its own pressures: he simply cannot move without being begged for a ‘selfie’ and his every move, word and even gesture is relentlessly reported in print, electronic and social media. Virat has learned to live with these realities.”

Kohli, who once was known for his animated celebrations, has now turned into a more calm head in the recent years. De Villiers also credited that for the India captain’s supreme success.

“There were occasions earlier in his career when his determination to succeed spilled over into outbursts anger and volatility on the field, but such incidents are rare now. He has evolved into the very model of a calm, clinical and confident professional cricketer, seemingly in control of every situation.

“When things don’t go well – and, unfortunately, for Virat as for anyone else, things don’t always go well – he falls back on his intense commitment and works ever harder until he turns the corner and meets the excessively high expectations.” he concluded.

Pakistan will play arch-rivals India — whom they had suffered a humiliating defeat against in Birmingham last week – in the tournament decider at The Oval on Sunday (June 18).

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