Shoaib Akhtar is never one to shy away from giving credit where it's due when it comes to Indian cricketers, and while this understandably draws criticism from the Pakistani cricket fans, the 'Rawalpindi Express' has no qualms about his adulation for the Men in Blue, Virat Kohli in particular.
This was further evident from his words during the 'Inside Out' show on Cricket Pakistan's YouTube channel, where he said one look at the stats would exonerate him from any praise he heaps on the Indian skipper.
“I don’t know why people are angry, they should go look at the stats first before criticising me. Do they want to keep the hatred in mind, that just because he is an Indian, we will not praise him?” said Akhtar on the show.
The 45-year-old also lauded the team structure of the Indian side, highlighting how they brought the right people to the fore, something that was once a hallmark of Pakistan.
“There was a time when Indians wanted to be like Pakistan. Now, Pakistan want to be like Indians,” Akhtar explained. “In the late nineties, India would raise their hands that we don’t want to play in Sharjah against Pakistan.
“Our mindset was made to change by bringing average people on the top. They brought average people to be the captain of the team. Look at what India got - they made Virat Kohli the captain, an aggressive player. Who did we bring?” Akhtar said with conviction.
From pacer to PCB?
Akhtar has reportedly been approached for the role of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) CEO - something the 45-year-old denied but also admitted that a person like him, who is 'straightforward and demands performances from the cricketers' is what the public wants.
However, what matters the most to him is that whoever the new elect is, they have the long-term betterment of the team in mind.
"Be it me or any other person, the important thing as (a) chief selector is the change in mindset – which we desperately need. That person and the head coach need to be on the same page for the betterment of the team."
Feature image courtesy: AFP / Manan Vatsyayana