A slew of raging debates have ensued over the former Indian skipper’s poor return with the bat, with several even vouching for him to be dropped from the squad altogether.
The 33-year-old, despite looking in good touch, has failed to convert any of his starts to a significant score.
Having mustered a mere 59 runs in the ongoing tour of England so far, Kohli is in desperate need of a good score, especially with competition emerging for his No.3 spot in the shorter formats.
Naming Kohli as the greatest player in the world across the last decade, Akhtar said on his YouTube channel:
“I am hearing a lot of criticism surrounding Virat Kohli. People are telling me that Kohli is over, he won’t be able to do anything, and I tell them that Kohli is the greatest player in the world over the last 10 years. Now in the last 1-2 years, where apparently he has not been good enough, it is not like he has not scored runs.”
While his 71st century continues to elude him, Kohli was among the runs, particularly in the previous two calendar years. He has scored 21 fifties in international cricket since 2020.
“I don’t understand how people could even think about the prospect of dropping Kohli” – Shoaib Akhtar
Kohli’s recent set of poor scores in England led to several fans and pundits vouching for the ace batter to be dropped.
A section of people believe that he should return to domestic cricket to find his form and some even want the Delhi-born cricketer to be excluded from the 2022 T20 World Cup squad.
Among those who have been vocal was World Cup-winning skipper Kapil Dev, who suggested that Kohli be dropped from the T20I squad, with the bench players taking over his role.
Speaking about the ongoing debate regarding Kohli’s status in the squad, Akhtar said:
“I don’t understand how people could even think about the prospect of dropping Kohli. I respect Kapil Dev, and it is his opinion, he is a legend so he can say it, but no one else can say it.”
“As a Pakistani, I support Kohli because scoring 70 hundreds is no small feat, only a great player can do this.”
Kohli has been rested for India’s upcoming tour of the Caribbean, beginning on July 22. Once he leaves England after the third ODI in Manchester, the 33-year-old is next expected to be seen on the field for the 2022 Asia Cup,