They have the highest mutual respect for each other and for AB de Villiers, Indian captain Virat Kohli, besides being a world-class player, is a "good guy with a good heart". India take on South Africa in a must-win clash at the Kennington Oval on Sunday. The team that wins will book its berth in the semi-finals while the loser will have to return home empty handed. It was expected that both India and South Africa will be the two teams to progress from Group B, however, shock losses against Sri Lanka and Pakistan, respectively, derailed their campaign.
"My take on him (Kohli) is quite simple, really. He's a world-class player. I know him really well. We've played together quite a few years at Bangalore. I respect him even more off the field. Just a good guy with a good heart. I love the way he plays cricket," one of the modern day greats was grace personified during his praise of a contemporary.
"He is very competitive. He always likes to come out on top. That's the kind of approach that I also have with my cricket. I like to compete and try and contribute in order for the team to win. He is a top-class player. He is difficult to stop when he gets going," de Villiers added.
The South Africa skipper insisted that his plans were in place, which was to unsettle Kohli early in his innings.
"So our plans will be around trying to unsettle him early on in his innings, like any other world-class batter, really. If you don't get them out early, they can do some damage. He just does it really well when he gets going. He can really hurt you, hurt your bowling attack and take the game away from you," he insisted.
De Villiers made it clear that he was expecting Ashwin to play on Sunday considering there were three left-handers in South Africa's batting line-up.
"It depends on the conditions, really. I will be expecting to see him in the team tomorrow, so we are preparing to see him in the side. If it doesn't happen, then so be it."
He sidestepped a query on whether Proteas love playing against Ashwin or not.
"I can't say if we prefer playing against him or not. He is a great bowler. He has taken many wickets in the past and he has had success against us as well, in India. But that's up for them to decide. If he is in the team, we will try our best to play well against him."
De Villiers denied that his captaincy was on line if they were unable to make it to the knock-out stage.
"I think my captaincy has been pretty good. I have thoroughly enjoyed every second out there. Lost the last game (vs Pakistan), so that's never ideal for a captain. I understand what I am trying to do out there. I am really enjoying the captaincy. I think I make some good calls."
But then the prickly relation that any celebrity shares with the media came to the forefront during his parting shot.
"But yeah, pencil is in your hand, and I unfortunately can't control what you are going to write but in my mind I am a good captain. So that's unfortunately going to come down to the result again tomorrow. Hopefully, a good one," he said.