‘Virat Kohli’s popularity in Pakistan is on par with Dilip sahab, Amitabh Bachchan and Shah Rukh Khan’ | Cricket News – Times of India

NEW DELHI: Former Pakistan captain Rashid Latif has expressed his amazement at the overwhelming love and admiration that Indian cricket superstar Virat Kohli receives from Pakistani fans. Despite not having played in Pakistan for over a decade, Kohli’s fan base in the country remains unaffected and is, in fact, growing stronger.
Latif compared Kohli’s fame to that of legendary figures such as Sachin Tendulkar and MS Dhoni, stating that Kohli commands a level of respect on par with cricket greats like Sunil Gavaskar and Kapil Dev, as well as Bollywood superstars Shah Rukh Khan and Amitabh Bachchan.
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“It’s not like Virat is the first one with such a big fan base in Pakistan. If you go back, Dilip Kumar had a massive fan following in Pakistan. Sunil Gavaskar became a cult figure here. Young batsmen were told to copy Gavaskar sahab’s technique. Then Amitabh Bachchan’s ‘angry young man’ movies used to get sold out. Then came Kapil Dev, Sachin Tendulkar, Shah Rukh Khan, MS Dhoni. When Dhoni came here his long locks became a trend,” Latif told The Indian Express.

“But Virat’s popularity in Pakistan is on par with Dilip sahab, Mr. Bachchan, and Shah Rukh. Like in India, you guys loved our bowlers – Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis, and Shoaib Akhtar became household names. Here in Pakistan, we adored Gavaskar sahab, Tendulkar, then Dhoni and now Kohli – they are all icons. Yuvraj Singh and Virender Sehwag too have a good fan following in Pakistan. But all said and done, the mad-craze over Virat is another level,” Latif added.

Supporting Latif’s statements, former Pakistan captain Azhar Ali, who has played against Kohli, stated that if India were to play a match in Pakistan, Kohli alone would attract fans to the stadium. Despite Kohli never having played an international match in Pakistan due to the lack of bilateral series since his debut in 2008, Ali believes that Kohli’s presence would significantly divide loyalties among fans.
“The day Virat plays in Lahore, Karachi, Rawalpindi, or Multan, only then you guys will understand his craze in Pakistan. You won’t believe it, but the stadium will be filled with green jerseys, magar peeche naam Babar ya Shaheen ka nahi, Virat ka hoga aur No 18 ke saath (but the name on the backs won’t be Babar Azam or Shaheen Shah Afridi, it will be Virat Kohli’s along with his jersey No 18),” Ali told The Indian Express.

As India and Pakistan prepare for their highly anticipated T20 World Cup encounter in New York, the fervor surrounding Kohli continues to grow, reinforcing his status as a cricketing icon revered by fans on both sides of the border.

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