Kohli is cricket's Cristiano Ronaldo, says Brian Lara
Shai Hope 'best option' West Indies have across all formats
Visakhapatnam : Virat Kohli is the cricketing equivalent of soccer superstar Cristiano Ronaldo for his sheer commitment towards the game even though a K L Rahul can consider himself at par with the India captain in terms of talent, feels West Indies batting icon Brian Lara.
One of the greatest batsmen to have played the game and for many, the best left-hander of all-time along with Sir Garfield Sobers, Lara says he is in awe of how Kohli has honed his skills to take batting to an "unbelievable level".
"I think it has got a lot to do with Virat's outstanding commitment besides his preparation. I don't think he is any more talented than a KL Rahul or a Rohit Sharma but his commitment to prepare himself properly stands out.
He is, for me, the cricketing equivalent of Cristiano Ronaldo," Lara told PTI during an exclusive interaction. "His fitness level and his mental strength is unbelievable."
For the 50-year-old Lara, who scored nearly 12,000 runs in Test cricket, Kohli can fit into the best teams of any era -- be it Clive Lloyd's 'Unbeatables' of the '70s or Sir Don Bradman's 'Invincibles' of 1948.
"His batting skills are unbelievable. He is a guy you cannot leave out in any era. If a guy is averaging 50 plus in all versions of the game, then that is something which is unheard of," the legend said.
Lara feels Shai Hope, who scored a magnificent hundred in the first ODI which West Indies won by eight wickets against India, is the "best option" available in the Caribbean team capable of performing in all the three formats of the game.
On Sunday, Hope scored an unbeaten 102 and alongside Shimron Hetmyer (139 off 106) stitched together a 218-run partnership as Windies chased down the 288-run target with utmost ease in Chennai and took a 1-0 lead in the three-match series.
"Pooran, Hetmyer and even Brandon King the new find, these are guys that you can mould. I think that they will mature a little bit later than others. Some guys like Sachin Tendulkar -- at 16 he was already a mature cricketer -- or Carl Hooper matured very early.
There is nothing wrong with maturing later in life," he pointed. According to Lara, the young talent which West Indies have at the moment needs to be given time and security by the selectors so they can play freely without any fear of losing their spot and revive country's cricket which has been on a downhill in the past few years.