Shoaib Akhtar has become the latest Pakistan cricketer to throw his weight behind former India captain Virat Kohli who has been struggling for runs for a while now. After returning to international cricket at the start of July, Virat Kohli has failed to make more than 20 runs in his five knocks across all formats. Virat Kohli's last appearance in India colors came on Thursday in the second ODI against England. But it turned out to be yet another disappointing outing for him as he played a reckless shot on a wide delivery bowled outside the off-stump by England speedster David Willey to lose his wicket for 16 at the iconic Lord's in London. Virat Kohli's failure at Lord's led to a wave of sympathy for the ex-India captain with Pakistan's Babar Azam leading the pack with his viral post on Twitter. Subsequently, Rohit Sharma and Jos Buttler followed suit and now Shoaib Akhtar has joined the bandwagon.

Hitting out at Virat Kohli's critics, Shoaib Akhtar said that making seventy centuries in international cricket wasn't a joke, something the Indian batter had already achieved and that too in record time.

Shoaib Akhtar insisted that Virat Kohli was a modern-day great who would be back at his best soon because all he needed was one good knock in the middle.

“As a Pakistani, I'm supporting Virat Kohli because 70 centuries… it's not Candy Crush. Only a great player can score these many centuries, a normal player can't do that. When Virat Kohli comes out of this phase, it will be a different Virat Kohli. There are some things that he needs to work on,” Shoaib Akhtar said on his official YouTube channel.

“You need to forget your stint as captain now. Move on from that. Just focus on yourself as a batter. You can't get runs? No problem. People are criticizing you? No problem. All of this will only make you stronger. You have to score 30 more hundreds. I have predicted 110 for you. You're still young, you're quite fit,” Shoaib Akhtar added.

According to Shoaib Akhtar, Virat Kohli looks anxious at the crease and appears to be in a hurry to score his runs. This is why he's making one mistake after another in a bid to revive his batting across formats.

“Don't be scared. Bowlers should know that they are going up against a strong guy. And you have been that person. Focus on yourself. Stay composed,” Shoaib Akhtar elaborated.

“You won't get runs by hitting. You need to stay in the middle. There are some things which you might not be able to implement right now. But then, you're not giving yourself time. You're showing frustration. You can't move past your rough patch this way. Stay calm, go off social media for a few days, forget the criticism,” Shoaib Akhtar pointed out.

Meanwhile, Virat Kohli replied to Pakistan skipper Babar Azam's heartwarming tweet on Saturday.

Babar Azam's post on social media which took the internet by storm came amid mounting criticism of Virat Kohli, with several former Indian cricketers calling for his ouster from the national team.

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Babar Azam wrote on Twitter, “This too shall pass. Stay strong. #ViratKohli.”

Babar Azam's tweet became an instant hit on the micro-blogging platform with numerous former cricketers from around the world praising him for his gesture.

Babar Azam later explained the rationale behind his post.

“As a player myself, I know you can go through such a phase (out of form) and I also know what a player goes through in such a phase. In those times, you need support. I just tweeted thinking that it will give just some support. He is one of the best players,” Babar Azam said during a press conference in Galle where Pakistan and Sri Lanka are taking on each other in the first Test.

“He is playing a lot of cricket and he knows how to come out of these situations. It takes time, if you back players, it will be really good,” Babar Azam added.

Two days after Babar Azam's tweet, Virat Kohli responded to his message, writing, “Thank you. Keep shining and rising. Wish you all the best.”

In total, Virat Kohli has now gone 965 days and 77 innings without a century in international cricket with his last hundred coming against Bangladesh in the historic Pink-ball Test in Kolkata in 2019.

Virat Kohli will return to action on Sunday when Rohit Sharma and his men will face Jos Buttler and company in the third and final ODI at Old Trafford in Manchester.

The series between the two teams is currently tied at 1-1 with India winning the first game at the Kennington Oval followed by the home side's triumph at Lord's on Thursday.