Virat Kohli is already adored by millions across India and around the globe -- but the nation’s cricket captain can now add one of the sport’s greatest ever players to his ever expanding fan club.
For a guy who has 30 million followers on Twitter, 37 million on Facebook, and another 36 million on Instagram, you could forgive Kohli for overlooking a new admirer.
But Kohli will want to sit up and take notice of this latest endorsement – that of Viv Richards, the West Indies great, widely considered one of the best ever to have ever picked up a cricket bat.
“Yes, for sure, maybe that’s why I’m in his corner most times,” Richards told CNN after being asked whether he sees parts of himself in Kohli.
“I just love the way he approaches his games, his batting, the confidence he gives to his players. He’s always involved. When you have a captain who always appears as confident as he does, all the other guys are going to be behind you and we’ve seen that before in this particular tournament.”
Richards, a two-time World Cup winner with the West Indies in the 1970s, has been firmly impressed not just by Kohli’s batting, but his style of leadership.
Kohli, 30, averages nearly 60 and has hit 41 centuries in one-day cricket. His Indian side is the top-ranked team in Test match cricket and second in the one-day format.
Richards believes that Kohli’s success and confidence is clear to see in the way he plays the game, and insists that attitude should not be confused with arrogance.
“You look at the way he walks out to bat. You have guys who sometimes have this quiet confidence about him. He wears his heart on his sleeve, and l love captains like that.
“I love individuals like that. Just the way they look at times, the walk and all that sort of stuff. It’s a presence. Sometimes some guys may look at it in a different way. They speak of arrogance, but I don’t think it’s arrogance in any way. It’s just that belief factor, and that’s why he’s been so successful. He believes in the product he brings to the party.”
Kohli is not the only Indian batsman to have found his way into Richards’ heart. Sachin Tendulkar, the leading run scorer in the history of Test cricket, was also one of Richards’ favorite players.
Tendulkar, who helped India win the World Cup in 2011, retired in 2013 at the age of 40, 24 years and one day after his Test debut.
And while there is a temptation to compare the two, Richards believes doing so would be unfair.
“It’s completely different in my opinion,” Richards said of the comparison between the two batsman ahead of India’s World Cup clash with the West Indies on Thursday.
“Sachin is a much more laid back individual, maybe not as up front as Virat, but you can never take anything way from them.
“What I think both do have in common is their height. They’re not the biggest folks in the world, but they pack a punch and that’s most important. They’ve been totally different in aspect of outlook to what the game is all about.
“Virat is more up front and Sachin will sit back just a little bit, but that doesn’t take anything away from both of them and what they’ve achieved so far in the sport.”