Virat Kohli
Virat Kohli earned wholesome words of praise from Junaid Khan, Pakistan's left-arm paceman. Image Credit: AFP

Dubai: India skipper Virat Kohli got a big thumbs up from left-arm Pakistan pacer Junaid Khan when the latter referred to him as the best batsman in the world across formats.

“No doubt (Virat) Kohli is the best batsman in all three formats. If you ask anyone, they would say that players like Babar Azam, Joe Root, Kane Williamson, Steve Smith are the currently the best in the world but on top of the list is Kohli because he has been outstanding in all three formats,” Junaid said in an interview on Youtbe.

The 30-year-old, currently out of favour of national selectors, felt that it was Kohli’s consistency which kept him a bit ahead of his contemporaries.

The Pakistan speedster also spoke about the time he got the better of Kohli three times in one series. In 2012, Pakistan beat India 2-1 in an ODI series in India and Junaid scalped the wicket of Kohli three times in the series.

The first ball I bowled to him was a wide but the next ball when I beat him, I thought ‘he’s a normal batsman’. Then I got some momentum

- Junaid Khan

“Before that tour, I was playing domestic cricket in Faisalabad. I had bowled around 35-40 overs in each match so I had developed momentum heading into the series,” Junaid said.

“I was making a comeback in the ODIs and when we were going to India, I knew that this is my only chance to make a comeback into the team.

“I was permanent in the Test team but had to comeback to ODIs. Secondly, I knew if I would perform well in India, I would need to take wickets,” he added.

Junaid also recalled his conversation with Kohli prior to the series when the latter joked with him regarding the pitch conditions in India.

“The first ball I bowled to him was a wide but the next ball when I beat him, I thought ‘he’s a normal batsman’. Then I got some momentum,” Junaid said.

“Virat jokingly said to me ahead of the series that these are Indian pitches and that balls won’t swing or seam here. I said ‘we will see, because I have plenty of momentum with me as well.” Junaid has played a total of 22 Tests, 76 ODIs and 9 T20Is in which he has scalped 71, 110 and 9 wickets respectively.

The two teams haven’t played a bilateral series since then but continue to square off in multi-team events. Their next meeting at Asia Cup 2020 has been cancelled for now.