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Shadab Khan Admits Planning Against Virat Kohli is a Challenge

Pakistan’s vice-captain and versatile all-rounder, Shadab Khan, has acknowledged the formidable status of Indian cricket captain Virat Kohli, emphasizing the immense planning required to tackle his brilliance on the field. Reflecting on Kohli’s extraordinary performance against Pakistan during last year’s T20 World Cup in Australia, where he rescued Team India from a challenging 31/4 situation with an exceptional knock of 82*, Shadab admitted that no other batter in the world could have demonstrated such prowess against Pakistan’s formidable pace attack comprising Shaheen Shah Afridi, Naseem Shah, and Haris Rauf.

In an exclusive conversation with Star Sports, Shadab Khan showered praises on Virat Kohli, asserting, “He is a world-class player, definitely. You have to plan a lot to face him. Anyway, in international cricket, there are a lot of mind games, because you definitely have the skill to reach that level. But how you read each other’s minds, the bowler and the batsman, how they read each other’s minds, and it also depends on what the situation is.”

Shadab particularly marveled at Kohli’s ability to excel under various circumstances. “The kind of batsman that Virat Kohli is, the way he has performed against us, even in the last match at the World Cup, I do not think that any other batsman in the world was in that situation, could have done that to our bowling line-up. And the beauty of it is that he can do this at any stage and at any time,” he added.

Pacer Shaheen Shah Afridi, sharing his strategic outlook for the upcoming Asia Cup 2023, underscored the importance of targeting openers to build pressure on the batting side. Afridi mentioned, “In my opinion, my game plan is simple, every opener knows my game plan. The goal is to, as always, get the openers out to put pressure on the batting team. The middle order when they come in are not used to playing against the new ball as much as an opener. So there is a lot of pressure on the middle order to face the new ball.”

Virat Kohli’s dominance against Pakistan is evident in the numbers. In 13 ODIs against Pakistan, he has scored 536 runs at an average of 48.72 and a strike rate of 96.22, including two centuries and two fifties. Moreover, across all formats in 23 international matches against Pakistan, Kohli has accumulated 1,024 runs at an average of 60.23, exhibiting his prowess with four centuries and seven fifties, with the best score being an awe-inspiring 183.

With a string of impressive performances in 2023, including his strong showing in the IPL, where he was the fourth-highest run-scorer, Virat Kohli’s stature as a modern ODI great continues to grow. As cricket enthusiasts await his potential breakthroughs, fans anticipate his steady march towards milestones such as breaking the record for the most ODI centuries and cementing his legacy as one of the greatest cricketers in the sport’s history.

The stage is set for the much-anticipated Asia Cup, where India, Pakistan, and Nepal compete in Group A, while Bangladesh, Afghanistan, and Sri Lanka feature in Group B. The tournament’s hybrid model will see Pakistan host matches in two venues, while Sri Lanka hosts the remaining games.

Pakistan Squad: Babar Azam (c), Abdullah Shafique, Fakhar Zaman, Imam-ul-Haq, Salman Ali Agha, Iftikhar Ahmed, Mohammad Rizwan, Mohammad Haris, Shadab Khan, Mohammad Nawaz, Usama Mir, Faheem Ashraf, Haris Rauf, Mohammad Wasim Jnr, Naseem Shah, Shaheen Afridi, Saud Shakeel, Tayyab Tahir (travelling reserve).

Indian Squad: Rohit Sharma (captain), Shubman Gill, Virat Kohli, Shreyas Iyer, KL Rahul, Suryakumar Yadav, Tilak Varma, Ishan Kishan, Hardik Pandya (vice-captain), Ravindra Jadeja, Axar Patel, Shardul Thakur, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammad Shami, Mohammed Siraj, Kuldeep Yadav, Prasidh Krishna.