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‘Do not say one word to Virat…’: South African great AB de Villiers says ‘criticise Kohli at your own peril’ | Cricket News

NEW DELHI: Having played both with and against Virat Kohli for years, South African great AB de Villiers has observed firsthand how the Indian star handles criticism.
In the early part of the Indian Premier League (IPL), the legendary Sunil Gavaskar was among those who questioned Kohli’s approach. In response, the champion batter delivered a series of high-scoring performances at an impressive strike rate, showcasing his ability to thrive under pressure and silence his critics.
“Yeah, I enjoyed that,” he said when asked about the constant debate over Kohli’s strike rate over the course of the season.
“I thought it was… really bad for someone like that for a hero and a role model of the country to get so much criticism around that. But the way I know him, I just knew and that’s exactly what I mentioned on my show. I said, guys, you have no idea what happens to this guy when he catches criticism.
“The many years I’ve played against him, I used to tell the players in the team room, you do not say one word to Virat on the pitch because he will come out and he will score a big 100 if you try and chirp him.
“So maybe it was a blessing in disguise, getting a bit of criticism, because stuff like that motivates him so much. And maybe someone should come out just before this game tonight and say something bad to him. I’m praying for that,” he said ahead of the Eliminator against Rajasthan Royals.
Royal Challengers Bengaluru (RCB) have made the IPL playoffs in remarkable fashion. After securing only one win out of their first eight games, they staged a stunning comeback with six consecutive victories to clinch a play-off spot.
De Villiers highlighted Kohli’s crucial role in this turnaround. “When the team is down and out, a player like Kohli can play a huge role in lifting the spirits, and that’s exactly what he did,” he said.
He noted that Kohli’s intensity never wavered, even during the team’s losing streak, demonstrating his unwavering commitment and leadership.
“It just shows the kind of care that he has for the team and the desire to ultimately go and win a trophy. And when you’re down and out like that with one out of eight wins, to still see that as a teammate, from a teammate’s point of view, to see that in one of your senior players who’s achieved everything in cricket. I mean, he’s one of the greats of all time.
“And you see someone like that and celebrating on the field after we’ve done just one out of eight. That’s got to be incredibly motivational, inspirational to say the least.
“And I think he played a huge role in lifting that team and getting them back on track purely by his attitude and by his fielding prowess and the way he threw himself around on the field, the run-outs he got, the celebrations, the tapping on the shoulders of some of the young players and celebrating other people’s success. That ultimately is a selfless act,” he added.
(With PTI inputs)

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