England Test captain Ben Stokes, who is playing his last ODI match in international cricket on Tuesday, acknowledged the heartfelt message from Virat Kohli and returned the compliment by saying he has always admired the energy and commitment that the Indian star brings to the game.
Stokes on Monday announced his sudden retirement from ODI cricket, saying that the rigours of playing all three formats of the game were "unsustainable" for him and he was not able to give his 100 percent to the team in the 50-over format.
Following his announcement, Kohli had called the all-rounder "the most competitive bloke" he has played against.
"You're the most competitive bloke I've ever played against. Respect," Kohli had written on Stokes' retirement post on Instagram.
Speaking to the official broadcasters in the lead-up to the first ODI between South Africa and England at Chester-le-Street, Stokes highlighted the impact Kohli's energy and intensity have had on the game.
"Look, Virat is going to go down as one of the greatest players to play the game in all three formats. He is a phenomenal player. And I have absolutely loved every time I have played against someone like him," Stokes told Sky Sports.
"The energy and the commitment that he gives to the game is something I have always admired even before I started playing against him. When you play against guys like that, you understand sort of what it means to not just yourself but for everybody else who was lucky enough to play at the top level.
"I am sure we will have some other battles on the field. It was nice to hear what he (Kohli) said," he added.
Kohli, who has not scored a century since November 2019 and struggled even in the recently-concluded tour of England, has been rested from the West Indies series beginning July 22.
On the other hand, the 31-year-old Stokes was the centre of attraction on Tuesday as South Africa won the toss and opted to bat in the first of the three-match ODI series. The all-rounder, who played a pivotal role in England's 2019 World Cup triumph, will be looking to make one memorable contribution for the last time in the 50-over format of the game.
Notably, Stokes was appointed as England's Test captain after Joe Root stepped down from the role earlier this year. The all-rounder led England to a 3-0 sweep of world champions New Zealand at home after which they defeated India in the rescheduled 5th Test.