The fact that Team India skipper Virat Kohli wears his heart on his sleeves is well known. In addition, his aggressive mindset coupled with a knack to score runs at will is what makes the skipper a favourite. However, there seems to be one man who can easily give Kohli a run for his money, and that is Australia skipper Steve Smith. Kepler Wessels, who is a former Australia and South Africa cricketer, has given an interesting angle to the comparison between Kohli and Smith.
Steve Smith has been in a magnificent form in the recently-concluded Ashes series. His last 5 Test scores read – 141*, 40, 6, 239, 76, 10s2* and 83. On the other hand, Virat Kohli’s scoresheet reads – 42, 0, 104*, 213, 243, 50, 5 and 28. And although Kohli has made these runs against a weak Sri Lanka, it takes nothing away from the fact that Kohli is made of a different cloth altogether.
Kepler Wessels likes Kohli’s aggressive brand of cricket
Speaking to CricketNext, Wessels said that while Virat Kohli was a showman, Smith was an artist in the way he piles up runs. Speaking about Joe Root and Kane Williamson, Wessels said that both the cricketers were technically sound. Kepler Wessels said,
“I think Kohli is terrific and I like the aggressive brand of cricket he plays. I like the way he can turn a match and the impact he has across all three formats. He is definitely one of the best batsmen at the moment. I like his personality and his aggression and the way he takes the game to the opposition. I think his leadership skills have been pretty good so far and it runs on the rest of the players.”
“Look it’s always difficult to compare players because they play under different conditions, in different circumstances and also for different teams. They all have been superb in modern day cricket. But Kohli is more adventurous probably than the other three. Smith is just phenomenal in the way he puts runs together at the crease, Root is very correct (in his approach) as is Williamson.”
On Kohli’s struggle in Test series against South Africa
Despite of Kohli’s terrific form, he hasn’t been able to help India’s case in defeating a formidable South Africa. But Kepler Wessels feels that there is nothing to worry as a batsman of Kohli’s calibre was bound to find a way out of the situation soon. Wessels said,
“Well the South Africans will definitely target him in that fourth stumps channel outside off stump and get that ball to bounce. They feel they have got a chance there to get him out early in the innings. You know he is a good player and he will find his way out to counter that.”
Wessels spoke of India’s struggles in the South African territory and said that Indian batsmen needed to hold their ground patiently if they want to win. He said that this fact was the key difference between batting in the Indian subcontinent and South Africa.
“They really got to apply themselves in these conditions and you got to be prepared to be patient to bat for long periods. So that is the basic difference of batting on the sub-continent and here in these conditions.”
Ajinkya Rahane is a high-rating Test player
Talking of applying oneself on the crease, Wessels said that Ajinkya Rahane was definitely one of India’s best batsmen, especially on foreign shores. The 60-year-old added that he was quite surprised to not find Rahane in India’s Test squad. He said,
“I rate him (Rahane) highly as a Test player and he has got a good away record. He is technically very sound. So, I was surprised to see him miss out on the Test match at the start of the series.”
Speaking about South African cricket and team, Kepler Wessels said that the Proteas were definitely in the top region when it came to Test cricket. However, the veteran expressed grief over the fact that they haven’t won a World Cup despite of the excellence. He said,
“I think the high for South African cricket has been to go on top in the Test arena, but not winning a World Cup till date is sad. That’s been a huge disappointment although there have been some good performances in the showpiece event.”