Karachi: Pakistan’s legendary batsman Zaheer Abbas joined the badwagon of former greats terming Indian captain Virat Kohli as the best batsman in world cricket who will break all the records of Sachin Tendulkar. Kohli currently has 39 ODI hundreds and is only 10 short of Tendulkar’s 49 centuries. Appearing on the Gsports show on GTV News channel, Zaheer advised cricket pundits to always keep in mind the era, conditions and opposition while assessing a batsman.
“I think at the moment Virat is the best. He will break all the records. But not only Virat, the Indian team has other top batsmen too. If you look at Rohit Sharma, you are just delighted to watch his strokes. One can only appreciate the beauty of his strokes. The variety of strokes in possession of Indian batsmen counts a lot,” Abbas said. It all boils down to skills said Abbas, who was considered a batting artist during his best years.
“Obviously, the confidence will come when you have so many strokes and when you know how to stay at the wicket. These skills don’t come easily. It takes time and hard work and one needs to develop a system for this,” he said. Zaheer, who played 78 Tests and 62 ODIs. was also candid in stating that even top Pakistani batsmen Azhar Ali and Asad Shafiq have still not reached that standard.
“They are our players and I want to see our batsmen do very well. But at this stage, they have not reached that standard that I can feel proud of. They haven’t come up to world standards as yet,” he said. Abbas also said that there was a time when Pakistan used to beat India regularly but in recent times the neighbouring country’s cricket structure has improved a lot and their system is producing some top quality players.
“Not only their batsmen but even their bowlers. They have improved a lot and this is because their board had the foresight to set up the MRF pace academy years back and get Dennis Lillee as their first coach to help groom their pacers,” he said. “India at this moment is a top side. Their standards have improved a lot specially after the IPL because they don’t allow their players to go and play anywhere else. They are giving so much financial security to their players.” The former skipper also advised the Pakistani players and management to get over the Champions Trophy victory in 2017.
“I think we need to get over it and move on. Unfortunately, in our cricket culture success hides every weakness. We need to learn from our neighbours. Not only India but also Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka who have improved so much now.” The former ICC President also has no doubts that the top teams not touring Pakistan since 2009 (terrorist attack on Sri Lanka cricketers) because of security concerns had also put Pakistan cricket backwards.
“Home series are very important as it allows youngsters to watch their role models and learn from them. Tours by foreign teams allow our players to also get more exposure and experience of playing against international players.”
He also appreciated how cricketers from around the world including Sunil Gavaskar had called up him to inquire about his health and wish him well after his recent heart surgery. “I was surprised at the number of calls and messages we received after my health problem. But I am well now and enjoying life.”