Former Pakistan cricketer and a legend of the game, Shoaib Akhtar feels that the pressure of marriage played a crucial role in affecting Virat Kohli's game, before admitting that had he been in Kohli's place, he wouldn't have married in the first place.
Talking to Dainik Jagran on Kohli's decision to quit Test captaincy, a month after being removed from the ODI role, Akhtar said that he was never in favour of the 33-year-old as an Indian captain and that all he wanted him to do was score centuries and keep his focus on batting.
"Virat didn't leave captaincy but was forced to do so. This is not the best of times for him but he needs to prove what he is made of. Is he made of steel or iron? Virat captained for 6-7 years and I was never in favour his Captaincy, I just wanted him to keep scoring 100, 120 runs and keep the focus on his batting," said Akhtar who is presently part of the ongoing Legends League Cricket.
The veteran cricketer further added that Kohli should have concentrated on just piling runs and records for 10-12 years rather than getting married. The former Indian captain is married to Bollywood actress Anushka Sharma.
"I would have not even married if I were in his place. I had just scored runs and enjoyed cricket, these 10-12 years of cricket are different times and doesn't come again. I am not saying getting married is wrong but if you are playing for India, you would have enjoyed the time. Fans are crazy about Kohli and he has to maintain that love he has been getting for the last 20 years," he added.
When stressed on whether the pressure of marriage plays a role in affecting a player's game, Akhtar replied saying, "Absolutely, yes."
" There is pressure from the children, of the family. As the responsibility increases, so does the pressure. Cricketers have a short career span of 14-15 years in which you stay at the peak for five-six years. Those years of Virat have passed, now he has to struggle," he elaborated.
He suggested that a player, especially a captain of a team should get married only after retiring from the role.
" As a captain, you have to think a lot. I am not against marriage but I believe (one should) play while playing. There shouldn't be much pressure. Play freely, pick up your things and play fiercely. I got married when I retired from being captain. As captain, you have to face the media, the brand, all the things which come with it," he said.