India captain Virat Kohli pays tribute to Ishant Sharma ahead of third England Test

Virat Kohli paid tribute to Ishant Sharma ahead of the third India v England Test (Picture: BCCI)

Virat Kohli has paid tribute to Ishant Sharma as the India fast bowler prepares to play his 100th Test in the third match against England.

Sharma has taken 302 wickets in 99 Test matches since making his red-ball debut for India in 2007 alongside the likes of Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid and Anil Kumble.

The 32-year-old became just the third Indian seamer to reach 300 Test scalps in the first Test of the England series, which is poised at 1-1 heading into the third Test, a day-night match in Ahmedabad.

Sharma will become only the tenth Indian to reach 100 Test caps and captain Kohli insists he ‘could not be happier’ for his close friend and team-mate.

‘I’ve know Ishant for a long time now,’ Kohli said. ‘He started playing state cricket with me and we were room-mates for many years.

‘When he first got selected for India, he was fast asleep and I had to kick him off the bed to tell him he was picked, and he didn’t believe me. That’s how far we go back.

‘I couldn’t be happier for him to get to 100 Tests. As a fast bowler it’s no mean feat, especially playing in our conditions.

Sharma will make his 100th Test appearance in Ahmedabad (Picture: Getty)

‘He persevered, kept working hard and he’s been like that from day one. I was most excited to work with him and bring the best out of him [when becoming India captain].

‘It clicked immediately because we know each other inside and out. It’s worked really well for both of us.

‘I’ve just been very happy to see him enjoy his bowling in the last four or five years and become that stalwart of our bowling group. I couldn’t be happier for him.

‘I’m excited that I’ll be present when he plays his 100th game. To see him smile and run into bowl will be great to watch for a dear friend of mine.’

India thumped England to win the second Test and level the series (Picture: Getty)

India suffered a shock 227-run defeat to England in the series opener in Chennai, before bouncing back with a comprehensive victory of their own in the second Test.

Kohli will become India’s most successful captain at home if India win either of the next two Tests but he says records like that ‘mean nothing’ to him.

‘Records as a captain mean nothing for me or any other player,’ he said. ‘It is a responsibility given to me and I’m trying to do my best.

‘This has always been the case, and will remain the same, as long as I play the game. These are fickle things which look great from outside, doesn’t matter to me as an individual.

‘Me and MS Dhoni share great camaraderie, and mutual respect is something you hold very dear to your heart. It is always more important than these milestones.

‘I have a responsibility to keep India on top, and same applies to someone who takes over after me.’

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