Kirsten: Kohli has a 'rare talent'

India

Former India and South Africa coach Gary Kirsten says he always knew batsman Virat Kohli would become an international star, and takes pride in the way the sometimes-hot-headed player has matured over the years.

Former India and South Africa coach Gary Kirsten says he always knew batsman Virat Kohli would become an international star, and takes pride in the way the sometimes-hot-headed player has matured over the years.

Kohli made his ODI debut in 2008 as a teenager, and has 113 such games to his name. He was not considered Test material until recently though, when his temperament calmed down, and has played 18 Tests since his debut in 2011, averaging 42.

Kirsten, the new Delhi Daredevils coach, told PTI: "I always had a different kind of feeling when I started working with Virat Kohli. From the beginning, I was very sure that he was a rare talent and would become a great player.

"He grew massively in these past few years and has matured a lot. I was fortunate to be part of that process of seeing him grow and that give me immense pleasure."

Kirsten was hesitant to put Kohli in the same bracket as batting legend Sachin Tendulkar though, saying: "I have always been very careful about appointing someone in that place.

"It's a very dangerous position and very risky to name anyone. All I can say is that Kohli is a fantastic batsman whom the opposition bowlers are finding difficult to get out.

"The teams nowadays do a lot of planning to get him out."

Kirsten, who ended his run as India coach in 2011 after the World Cup, didn't get to see much of India's other rising star Shikhar Dhawan, who has captured the cricket fan's imagination this year.

He made his ODI debut in 2010, but only recently came into superb form and scored the fasted Test century by a debutant, against Australia in March. He has also pushed his ODI average to more than 43.

The coach added: "Unlike Kohli, I haven't seen much of Dhawan but what I have gathered over time after some interactions with him is that he has a massive amount of self-belief in his abilities which is very refreshing."

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