Former South African skipper, AB de Villiers reckons that the Indian skipper, Virat Kohli’s natural talent makes him a cricketing equivalent of Roger Federer while Steve Smith’s ability to control his mind matches that of Rafael Nadal as he went on to compare the two contemporary stalwarts. During an Instagram live session with former Zimbabwe seamer Pommie Mbangwa, De Villiers spoke about Smith and Kohli, who are easily the game’s biggest crowd-pullers right now.
Explaining his point of view, ABD said, “It’s a difficult one, but Virat is definitely the more natural ball-striker, there’s no doubt about that. In tennis terms, I’d say he’s more like a (Roger) Federer whereas Smith is like a (Rafael) Nadal. Smith is mentally very strong and figures out a way of the scoring run – he doesn’t look natural, but he ends up writing records. I think mentally, Smith is one of the best I have ever seen. Virat has also scored runs all over the world and won games under pressure.”
De Villiers also felt that when it comes to chasing, Virat is even one step better than the legendary Sachin Tendulkar.
AB elaborated, “Sachin is a role model for both of us (him and Kohli). The way he stood out in his era, the things he achieved, and with the grace, he did all that is a great example for everyone. But personally, in a chase, I’d say Virat is the best I’ve seen in my life. Sachin was amazing in all formats and all situations, but Virat comes out on top while chasing.”
The world knows Kohli as a prolific batsman but for de Villiers, he is a friend, who has interests beyond cricket and is spiritual at one level.
Explaining the same, ABD said, “He’s much deeper than just a cricket player…I think most people realize after a while that there’s more to life than just cricket. He thinks a lot about life after life – what’s to come, the different religions, we talk about everything.”
Talking about the IPL, De Villiers said that the tournament has helped him to grow a plethora of lifelong friendships.