Virat Kohli, ahead of Asia Cup 2023, lauded Babar Azam as the world’s top batsman, sharing mutual admiration with strong sportsmanship between them.

In a recent conversation with Star Sports, Virat Kohli showered accolades on Pakistan’s skipper, Babar Azam, highlighting the intense rivalry between the two teams. With the much-anticipated Asia Cup 2023 approaching, Kohli’s endorsement of Babar as the current world’s best batsman across all formats adds a thrilling layer of context to upcoming India vs Pakistan showdown on September 2.

The former Indian captain fondly recalled their first encounter during the 2019 ODI World Cup, instantly recognizing the special skills of this remarkable batter.

“The first interaction I had with him (Babar Azam) was during the 2019 World Cup after the game in Manchester. I’ve known Imad since the Under-19 World Cup, and he said Babar wanted to have a chat. We sat down and spoke about the game. I saw a lot of regard and respect from him from day one, and that hasn’t changed,” Kohli said to Star Sports.

“Regardless of the fact he’s probably the top batsman in the world across formats, and rightly so. Performs so consistently and I’ve always enjoyed watching him play,” he added.

The Kohli-Babar rivalry has been a captivating aspect of India vs Pakistan contests for the past five years. During a World Cup encounter in Manchester, Kohli, then the world’s top-ranked ODI batter, scored a 65-ball 77, contributing to India’s decisive 89-run victory.

As Babar has matured into the peak of his career, he has ascended to the pinnacle of the game, particularly in the ODI format. Earlier this year, he achieved a remarkable milestone, becoming the quickest player in ODI history to cross the 5,000-run mark, surpassing Hashim Amla and Viv Richards. With an impressive 886 points, Babar reigns as the undisputed top-ranked ODI player worldwide, with Rassie van der Dussen a distant second at 777 points. Kohli, not far behind, secures a spot in the top ten, holding the ninth position with 705 points.

Babar Azam’s exceptional rankings place him third in T20Is and fourth in Tests, making him the sole batsman in the top five across all three formats.

The anticipated clash between India and Pakistan in the Asia Cup’s group stage on September 2, along with potential Super 4 encounters culminating in a World Cup match on October 14 in Ahmedabad.

Last Updated on August 13, 2023

Senior Sports Copywriter