Former Pakistan cricketers Mohammad Hafeez and Wahab Riaz share polarizing views on Virat Kohli's 121-ball 101* in the 2023 World Cup clash against South Africa on Sunday. Hafeez cited Rohit Sharma's example and felt Kohli played selfishly in Kolkata, while Wahab Riaz highlighted that the 34-year-old's role was to be there until the end.
Despite a masterful ton on a tricky surface at the Eden Gardens, Kohli's innings attracted criticism, given he was unable to get the ball away for a certain period of time. Certain section of fans on social media referred to him as 'selfish' for playing for his own hundred instead of thinking about the team. India still posted a healthy 326 and won by 243 runs.
Speaking on the show named Top Cricket Analysis, Hafeez felt Rohit Sharma played the situation perfectly by putting the Proteas under pressure early on. The retired cricketer stated that the difference between Kohli and Rohit was that the latter doesn't think about centuries.
"I saw sense of selfishness in Virat Kohli’s batting and this happened for the third time in this World Cup. In the 49th over, he was looking to take a single to reach his own hundred and he didn’t put the team first. Rohit Sharma could have played selfish cricket too, but he didn’t because he is playing for Team India and not for himself."
"You have to give credit to Rohit Sharma. The way he is sacrificing his innings with right intent is commendable. The way he batted in the first six overs. He gave that sucker punch to South Africa. He knew pitch will get difficult and must attack when the ball is new and hard. Your captain can also play like you but his goal is bigger than his personal achievement. Rohit can also hit centuries."
Wahab Riaz defends Virat Kohli's approach:
Ex-Pakistan paceman Wahab Riaz came to Kohli's rescue, stating that India might have ended up with a much lesser total had the 34-year-old not played the way he did.
"I disagree. The role is defined differently. Virat’s role is to take the game deep. In the last eight overs India scored 75 runs. Surya and Jadeja played fast but Kohli made sure that he is there at other end. if Kohli would have got out, we would have not seen those two cameos and India might not have crossed the 300-run mark."
With the 243-run victory, Team India have secured the top spot in the points table.