Is fitness freak Virat Kohli cricket's Cristiano Ronaldo? Former Pak captain Salman Butt responds
Having ended his century drought for nearly three years in a T20I against Afghanistan in the Asia Cup in September, Virat Kohli has not looked back since then, and former Pakistan skipper Salman Khan attributes the Indian batting icon's fitness as a critical factor to his comeback.
In the third and final ODI against Sri Lanka on Sunday, 34-year-old Virat Kohli scored an unbroken 166 runs from 110 balls and showed no signs of fatigue or tiredness. The right-handed batter remained at the crease for over three hours, and during his innings, Kohli smashed 13 fours and 8 sixes, but 66 of his runs came from running between the wickets.
Kohli's dedication towards his fitness is known to all, and he is lauded as one of India's fittest athletes. Having ended his century drought for nearly three years in a T20I against Afghanistan in the Asia Cup in September, the star batter has not looked back since then and continues to prove his mettle in pivotal circumstances consistently.
Former Pakistan captain Salman Butt has applauded Kohli's fitness dedication and believes the Indian batting icon is back to his peak form where scoring centuries was a regular feature.
"Virat Kohli's fitness standard is top-notch. It is unlike other playing cricket worldwide at the moment. He is on a different level. His physical strength adds to his mental strength. Despite three years of criticism day in and out, Kohli was able to make a comeback because of his mental strength, which comes from his physical strength. He is the fittest athlete in India. He is their No.1 athlete. I have never seen any other Indian cricketer who is as fit as Kohli," said Butt on his YouTube channel.
Butt was also asked if Kohli was the Cristiano Ronaldo of cricket, as the Portuguese talisman is known to be one of the fittest athletes in football, even at the age of 37.
"Kohli is not less than any Ronaldo of any game. He is no less than a top player in any game. Be it Ronaldo, a football icon or any other top-class athlete, a fitness freak sportsman around the world. He stands right up there with all of them. His dedication towards fitness is commendable," Butt added.
With his outstanding performance in the Asia Cup, Kohli, who was having trouble with his form in 2022, completely changed the course of his performance. The India star then put another outstanding display during that year's T20 World Cup. Kohli amassed 283 runs in the recently concluded ODI series against Sri Lanka thanks to two centuries. He averaged 141.50 in the series, while his strike rate was 137.38.
"I think Virat Kohli is back to his best, maybe back to his normal. He used to score plenty of runs and hundreds consistently. The way he plays ODI cricket is the absolute way of playing in the format. You make a steady start, play ball-by-ball, put away bad balls and score run on good deliveries. Once fully set, he was consistently able to hit it over the boundary easily. There was a low-risk factor. This shows how much control he has over the game when he is on the song," Butt added.