Intriguing Battle Between Shaheen Afridi and Virat Kohli
Shaheen Afridi’s Record Against Kohli
In the four games that Shaheen Afridi has played against Virat Kohli, he has dismissed the former India captain once. Kohli’s imperious record against Pakistan has always allowed him to score heavily against India’s arch-rivals going back to 2012 and 11 years later, the pattern hasn’t changed. Even against Shaheen, one of the best new-ball bowlers going around, Kohli has scored 34 runs from two innings – Virat has faced Afridi just twice (in both the T20 World Cups in 2021 and 2022) taking him for 4 fours and a six – at a strike-rate of 154.54. But while the faceoffs between the two have been limited due to the T20Is, the Asia Cup will provide an opportunity to witness a longer battle between the two superstars of their respective countries.
Shaheen vs Kohli Contest in the Asia Cup
So when September 2 arrives, the third Asia Cup showdown between India and Pakistan in a year, the atmosphere promises to be electric when Shaheen runs in to bowl to Kohli. Two innings are not enough to determine the winner of the Shaheen vs Kohli contest, but by the time the Asia Cup concludes and it’s time for the World Cup, there surely will be more context. Shaheen has tasted success against India’s top order, but Kohli isn’t one of them; however, it could change in the upcoming few matches between India and Pakistan as per Brad Hogg. The former Australia spinner feels that while Kohli will be fiercely motivated to extend his dominating run against Pakistan, Pakistan and Shaheen will have other plans.
Brad Hogg’s Prediction
- “I think Shaheen will have a chance with the deliveries that come in against right-handers.”
- If Pakistan can expose Virat Kohli early in the contest against the new ball in front of Shaheen Afridi.
- The contest between Shaheen against the Indian top three will be decisive.
- For me, that’s going to be where the game will be won and lost between India and Pakistan,” he said on the show Backstage with Boria.
Similarities to Sachin vs Akram Battle
Of those 34 runs, 22 came in one over – the 18th of the Indian innings at the MCG, where Kohli took Shaheen for 17 runs including two boundaries. It, many call, was the game-changing over, one that allowed Kohli to find his tempo before the twin sixes off Haris Rauf. While most top-order batters have found themselves in a fix against Shaheen, Kohli has looked relatively at ease. The Kohli vs Shaheen feud is similar to the one between Wasim Akram and Sachin Tendulkar. While Akram bamboozled the world with his reverse swing, he hardly troubled Sachin, getting him out just thrice in ODIs and once in Tests. Of course, the battle between Akram and Tendulkar spills over a decade with hundreds of matches between the two during the 1990s and early 2000s era of India-Pakistan rivalry, but one can’t brush the similarity under the carpet.
Hogg Reopens Kohli vs Tendulkar Debate
Weighing on the same, Hogg has given the edge to Kohli. Long gone is the Kohli who struggled to score centuries and registered three golden ducks in IPL 2022. Last year’s break did him a world of good, allowing the Kohli of old to resurface. After smashing a century against Afghanistan, Kohli arguably played the innings of his life against Pakistan in Melbourne. But while Kohli, along with Rohit Sharma and Shubman Gill, promise to handle the batting responsibilities, it’s India’s bowling that poses a question for Hogg despite the return of a fit-again Jasprit Bumrah.
- “I was looking at Virat Kohli’s stats the other day. Tendulkar got a slightly better conversion rate of 100s. Kohli has got a better record. I just think he has got his hunger back and a little bit of pressure taken off him. I think he’s got unfinished business, and that’s probably the big danger for opposition teams.”
- “That innings against Pakistan here at the MCG, hitting Haris Rauf back over his head of good length. That was the best shot that I have ever seen in cricket. It was brilliant,” added Hogg.
- “Fans got to realize that there is a lot of pressure on Virat Kohli. He also can have ups and downs, even the great Sachin Tendulkar had ups and downs. When he has got that right frame of mind and has that pressure off his back, we see a dominant Virat Kohli. I am not worried about the Indian batting. I am probably worried about the Indian bowling attack. It is their bowling which doesn’t get them off to a good start.”