Bengaluru, Jan 23: Virat Kohli's praise of on-field rival Ben Stokes has given rise to speculation that the Indian captain might be interested in making the England all-rounder his team-mate at the Indian Premier League (IPL).
List of players retained for IPL 2017
After last night's (January 22) 3rd ODI between India and England at Kolkata's Eden Gardens, Kohli hailed Stokes' all-round performance (57 not out, 3/63) which helped the visitors prevail by 5 runs in a last-over thriller. (Kohli praises Stokes in Kolkata)
"He's (Stokes) a guy with great character, he's always fighting to win games for England. We have seen that from him in Test cricket and today he was really motivated to win the game for them.
"You could tell from his body language. The way he bowled, the way he batted and the way he was running in the end as well, while he was batting. I mean every side is pleased to have cricketers like that. And nowadays everyone does play with that mindset," Kohli told reporters after the match.
During the recently concluded India-England Test series, Kohli and Stokes had a go at each other. One of the altercations resulted in Stokes receiving an official reprimand from the International Cricket Council (ICC).
Kohli, the captain of Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB), might have given a hint the he is keen to buy Stokes at the IPL Players' Auction, which is likely to be held next month.
The 25-year-old Stokes, one of the leading all-rounders at the moment, has said that he would be entering the IPL auction this year, for the first time.
"I have put myself up for the auction. It is a good opportunity to go away and experience a different competition," Stokes said recently.
"This year's IPL is a chance not just for myself but to a few other English guys to go and experience what it is like and get a different side of T20 cricket rather than just playing in England. I am looking forward to seeing, if I get a chance.
"You end up playing against the best players in the world, although it is T20 cricket. Look at the guys who have played in franchise cricket in Australia and India as well," he added.