On the impact scale, Virat Kohli could make Viv Richards' languid ferocity a forgotten chapter of cricket history. And future generations might even speak of the Indian captain ahead of Don Bradman. Equally, Kohli could burn out faster than either of them.
Hyperbole? Scare-mongering? Certainly not, thinks legend Kapil Dev, an astute reader of the game who believes Kohli has changed the parameters of what constitutes batting excellence.
"It's scary how fast he is going (towards greatness)," Kapil said at a book launch here. "And when you go that fast, there is also fear (inside you).He is a mixture of Vivian Richards and Tendulkar. People will talk of him ahead of Don Bradman if he can go on."
It's not just the Indian skipper's aptitude which pleases Kapil, but his approach. "How does Kohli have so much impact? Because he can tell the bowler after hitting him for four, 'go and bowl'. Virat has that attitude. He is not from the Mumbai school of batsmanship, where you hit a bowler and put your head down so you don't anger him."
Praise for Kohli isn't exactly at a premium these days, but Kapil, who is all heart even while analysing the game, has an important word of caution.
"Cricketers are the least fit of all sportsmen. But Kohli has also set the benchmark for fitness. Sometimes I think he is over-fit. When you train that hard, your muscles can burn out faster. With that much fitness training, you're worried about getting injured also.
"Right know everything is going his way, even the DRS. When we used to play, we would say, judge a player by how many Diwalis and Eids he has seen. Right now Viv is the top in my book, but Virat might surpass Viv."
Kapil, who was speaking at the launch of 'Numbers Do Lie', penned by Aakash Chopra and Impact Index, placed Kohli a notch above AB de Villiers.
"Kohli has excellent technique and sometimes he will pick the length very early and play a shot which will surprise you. AB is technically not as good as Kohli but he has better eye-hand co-ordination. We always say hand-eye batsmen cannot go on beyond a point, but hats off to the way AB has carried on."
Also read: Keeping alive India’s textile heritage