Former England captain Kevin Pietersen heaped rich praise on Virat Kohli, calling him the greatest modern-day batsman and reckoned that the India captain is way ahead of his contemporaries Steve Smith, Kane Williamson, and Joe Root. Pietersen also made a strong statement about the Kohli vs Smith debate which has long been a favoured topic of every cricket fanatic. In a freewheeling chat with ex-Zimbabwe cricketer and commentator Pommie Mbangwa, Pietersen, without even batting an eyelid, picked Kohli over Smith, even going on to say that the former Australia skipper ‘doesn’t even come close’ to the Indian superstar.

The 39-year-old swashbuckling batsman Pietersen continued to express his admiration for Kohli, saying his propensity to pull off run-chases put him a notch above legendary Sachin Tendulkar as well. “Kohli is a freakshow, his record chasing winning games for India with the amount of pressure he lives under, Smith does not even come close to him,” Pietersen said.

Mbangwa took it a step further and prodded the England batting star again by asking him to choose between Tendulkar and Kohli. Responding to the query, the South Africa-born cricketer said: “Again Virat because of his chasing numbers. His chasing numbers are frightening. He averages 80 in chases, all his one-day hundreds come when chasing. He consistently wins games of cricket for India. He just keeps on turning the numbers, chasing, chasing, chasing.”

“That’s what drives me. My man of the match performances. It was not the way that I played or how I played. How many man of the match performances and how many games you win for England. And he does that for India. Unreal numbers,” added Pietersen.

In successful ODI run chases, Tendulkar had scored 5490 runs at an average of 55.45 across 124 innings which included 14 centuries. While Kohli has already amassed 5388 runs at an average of 96.21 across 86 innings in the matches where he has helped India overhaul the target. He has smashed 22 tons in those matches.

In the white-ball format, Kohli’s records are simply mind-boggling. The Delhi-born right-hander averages above 50 in all forms of international cricket. In Tests, he has scored 7240 runs at an average of 53.62 and in ODIs, he has scored 11867 runs at an average of close to 60.

In the shortest format, Kohli has played 82 matches in which he has scored 2794 runs.