Former Pakistani cricket captain and now a politician, Imran Khan, has a habit of giving former Indian cricket captain Sachin Tendulkar the second-best ranking in comparisons.
Khan, who had once called his fellow countryman Inzamam-ul-Haq as a better batsman than Tendulkar, has recently counted current Indian Test captain Virat Kohli ahead of Tendulkar when it comes to "difficult situations".
It is not difficult to understand that Khan's frustration is caused by the poor state of cricket---his past occupation---and politics---his current one---in Pakistan. His own party---the PTI---has also not been able to make any big progress despite the country having politicians with alsmost zero credibility. And on the field, Pakistan is no more a team which commands respect as it did during Khan's playing days.
The natural inclination is hence to make some relevant remarks on issues related to neighbour India---which is doing decently in both cricket and politics. But Khan's comparison between Tendulkar and Kohli makes little sense.
One expects Khan to make a more reasonable remark than saying Kohli is better than Tendulkar since the two players have taken their stance in two different eras---more than in terms of quality than time.
Tendulkar's times yet had some quality bowling--the tradition of which has fast eroded in the last 20-25 years, thanks to limited-overs cricket--but Kohli's opponents hardly have any bowling of respect and in most one-sided games that we see today, the term "difficult situations" has a different connotation.
The former had taken a long time to reach his first ODI hundred though he had the talent in him to smash Test tons as a teenager in England and Australia against some of the best pace attacks. How many quality pace attacks have Kohli played during his fast rate of scoring international tons. Even the mighty Australia looks a shadow of its past now and so are its wickets.
Kohli rather has a bigger challenge in maintaining his consistency than tackling the bowlers. Be it Australia, England, Pakistan or South Africa---the standard of bowling has taken a nosedive and with the advent of T20 cricket, the 22 years have been reduced to the batter's garden.
One might say that it is not Kohli's fault that there are no quality bowlers today.
That's certainly not Kohli's fault but at the same time, it is not fair to say Tendulkar trails him. With the likes of Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis (who broke Tendulkar's nose in their debut series), Curtley Ambrose, Allan Donald, Brett Lee, Shaoib Akhtar, Shane Warne, Muttaiah Muralidharan not around and Kohli never having played them, what's the basis to announce his superiority over Tendulkar?
Just like Tendulkar can't be called better than Sunil Gavaskar since the latter had a fierce opponent to deal with without a helmet protecting his skull and the comparison should be more even-based, the verdict can't favour Kohli against Tendulkar just because he has a better rate of scoring under pressure, if there is any in today's cricket.
While Gavaskar's greatness had lied in his gutsy show, Tendulkar won it for his untiring durability. Kohli, on the other hand, is making history for his super consistency. But by comparing them by straightaway saying that one is better than the other, one only dishonours the exciting talents.
Khan might find it pleasant to rank one popular Indian player above another without judging the difference in realities but it would be better if he finds a batsman in the current Pakistani cricket establishment who is better than Inzamam-ul-Haq. That will do some serious service to his cause.