London: Star South African batsman AB deVilliers today heaped praise on Virat Kohli, describing him as "a consummate surgeon at the crease" who is able to cope with extreme pressure that is associated with leading a top side like India.
"He has been blessed with wonderful natural talent but, as ever among high achievers, his talent is underpinned by a willingness to work hard," wrote De Villiers in his column for the 'BBC'.
"He is a consummate surgeon at the crease, intensely focussed, working hard, playing the ball into gaps in the field and staying calm under pressure. He is always judging the right time to consolidate and the right time to seize a game by the scruff of the neck," he added.
De Villiers, whose team came up with a disappointing show at the ongoing Champions Trophy despite being the world No. 1 side, applauded Kohli's ability to deal with pressure and steer his team to the final, scheduled tomorrow.
"Beyond the golden talent and the iron determination, Virat has learned how to cope with the pressures of his exalted position." The South African captain, who plays alongside Kohli for the Royal Challengers Bangalore team in the Indian Premier League, revealed that the "outstanding cricketer" is someone who is fun to be with off the field.
"Intense and serious in matches and at practice, he retains the invaluable ability to switch off from the game, relaxing, laughing and joking at every opportunity. He enjoys calling people by playful nicknames and he can find humour in almost every situation," said the 33-year-old.
De Villiers said that Kohli has learned to live with the huge burden of expectation. "If you drive into almost any city in India, you will see his face appear on every other billboard," he said.
"Being the most marketable and possibly the most popular personality in a nation of 1.3bn people brings its own pressures: he simply cannot move without being begged for a 'selfie' and his every move, word and even gesture is relentlessly reported in print, electronic and social media.
"Twitter whirred when he stuck out his tongue to celebrate a wicket against Bangladesh. Virat has learned to live with these realities," de Villiers elaborated. He said even during hard times, Kohli relies on his hard work and determination to come out with flying colours.
"When things don't go well and, unfortunately, for Virat as for anyone else, things don't always go well he falls back on his intense commitment and works ever harder until he turns the corner and meets the excessively high expectations," concluded de Villiers....