Virat Kohli similar to Sourav Ganguly: Irfan Pathan

Virat Kohli similar to Sourav Ganguly: Irfan Pathan

Former India fast bowler Irfan Pathan has said Virat Kohli is the right guy to guide youngsters who come into the senior team after playing U-19 cricket, given the India captain himself has made a successful transition from junior cricket to the top level in the sport.

Irfan Pathan pointed out that Virat Kohli is very similar to Sourav Ganguly when it comes to backing youngsters in the team. Pathan pointed out how Rishabh Pant has got the backing of Kohli in the recent past despite the young wicketkeeper-batsman's struggles in international cricket.

Pathan said U-19 cricketers need to evolve constantly and be mentally strong to make a successful switch from the junior level to the senior level.

"He is very similar to Sourav Ganguly as well. A guy who backs his youngsters really, really well. Virat Kohli has that aura about him, that he goes out of his way to back the youngsters. We have seen that with Rishabh Pant, we have seen the press conferences, he goes and says, 'No, we need to back a guy like Rishabh Pant purely on his potential'," Pathan told Star Sports' Cricket Connected show.

"We have seen so many Under-19 India players who vanish after playing the U-19 World Cup. They don't end up fulfilling their potential at the international level which they might have. Also, we have so many cricketers playing the U-19 World Cup and then going on to play for India. In between, there is a bridge which is first-class cricket.

"I think we need to make sure that you have the right mentality to reach at the bigger level, at the same time, making your game bigger, I think that's the biggest challenge any cricketer faces who plays U-19. At the U-19, you need to make sure that you strive to get better as a cricketer.

"The competition level isn't the same at the U-19 level, first-class level and at the international level. You need to keep changing your cricketing ability, but at the same time, your mentality as well which is very, very important."

Virat Kohli took as Test captain from MS Dhoni as early as 2014 and had led India to the top spot in ICC Test rankings. After taking over the rein in limited-overs cricket in 2017, Kohli led India to the final in ICC Champions Trophy and the knockout stages in World Cup 2019.

Meanwhile, former England off-spinner Graeme Swann said he loves watching Rishabh Pant and that the India wicketkeeper will evolve into a top-class batsman, given the support he has from the captain and the team management.

"The name came up there, Rishabh Pant. I absolutely adore the way he plays his cricket. Irfan's so right. Because he has someone backing him," Swann said.

"You remember in the Test series when he came to England and first ball or second ball at Trent Bridge, he hit the spin bowler back over his head for six. I thought at that moment that this guy would be something special in Test cricket, because he is a youngster and yet he backs his game. He's got the team around him who backs up."