Virat Kohli on His Way to Reign Supreme Over ‘God of Cricket’
Comparing greats from two eras is something fans are always guilty of – despite the irrationality behind it. In the world of football, you always had the Pele and Maradona debate. Both players never crossed paths during their playing days – set apart by at least six years – yet fans wanted to distinguish the two and crown one ‘the greatest’.
Cricket fans are no different. Over the years, cricketers have been compared to Sir Donald Bradman to ascertain their greatness. If India’s Sunil Gavaskar was at the receiving end during the seventies and eighties, Sachin Tendulkar was touted to have replaced ‘The Don’ as the ‘Run Machine’ at the start of the new millennium.
Eventually, Tendulkar did go on to become the greatest cricketer to have graced the game but certainly not at the expense of Sir Don Bradman. With over 25,000 runs in international cricket and a century of centuries, Tendulkar inspired an entire generation of Indian cricketers, including many who are now part of the national team.
One of them is certainly current Indian skipper Virat Kohli. Since Kohli’s admission into international cricket, he was marked for greatness. While many Indian cricketers arrived at the international stage with reputation and failed to live up to it, Kohli didn’t disappoint.
The frequency at which he has been scoring his runs in the last few years in ODIs, we all knew that again a new ‘who's the greatest’ debate was lurking somewhere around the corner. When Tendulkar retired from ODIs, nobody thought his achievements would be emulated.
On Tuesday, against Australia in Nagpur, Virat Kohli became the second cricketer to reach 40 ODI centuries. Sachin Tendulkar continues to top the list with 49 tons.
Last year, Virat Kohli became the fastest batsman to reach 10,000 runs in ODIs after scoring a second consecutive century against West Indies. He had breached Tendulkar’s record, who had reached the milestone in 259 innings, while the Indian skipper achieved so in 205 innings.
Since then, the discussion regarding Kohli reigning supreme over Tendulkar in ODIs has gained momentum and after Tuesday’s performance is on everyone’s lips.
Records are meant to be broken. Keeping this is mind we at The Quint take a look at some numbers which prove why Virat Kohli will be the first human to overtake the ‘God of Cricket’ in ODIs.
After 224 ODI matches. Virat Kohli is miles ahead of Sachin Tendulkar as far as batting numbers are concerned. In 216 innings, Kohli has accumulated 10,693 runs while Tendulkar’s tally stood at 8,350 from 217 innings. But more than the runs scored, it is the average and the numbers of centuries scored which tilts the balance in Kohli’s favour. Kohli averages almost 60 in ODIs, compared to Tendulkar’s 42.60. And Kohli leads by a staggering 17 centuries after 224 ODIs against Tendulkar scoring 23 hundreds after an equal number of matches.
But as far as ICC tournaments are concerned, Tendulkar enjoys an upper hand. The Master Blaster, who has played in six World Cup and five ICC Champions Trophy, has amassed 2,719 runs in 61 matches, including 7 centuries. Meanwhile, Kohli has played in two World Cup and three ICC Champions Trophy. During this time, he has played in 30 matches scoring 1,116 runs and two centuries. Both batsmen average over 50 in ICC competitions.
Contrary to popular belief, more than 60 percent of Tendulkar’s 49 centuries came in winning cause. Out of 463 ODIs played by Tendulkar, India won 234 of them, with him scoring centuries on 33 occasions. But again, the whole perception of Tendulkar not scoring a hundred in India’s win most probably stems from the fact that most of his centuries have come while batting first. Out of his 49 ODI tons, less than thirty percent have come while chasing.
On the other hand, time and again we have seen that Kohli is a master chaser and flourishes under pressure. Over the years, right from his debut, out of Kohli’s 33 centuries, which helped India win an ODI, 21 of them occurred while batting second. If this isn’t enough, Kohli enjoys an enviable average of 95.24 during successful run-chases.
Another important factor for comparison is both players’ form with the bat as captain of the side, which paints completely contrasting pictures. While Kohli thrives with the added responsibility, Tendulkar’s batting mastery hardly came to the fore when he led the side.
Tendulkar's two tenures as captain of the Indian cricket team were not very successful both personally as well as for the side. In the 73 ODIs where he captained the side, Tendulkar could only manage to score 6 centuries. He made around 2,500 runs at an ordinary average of 37.75.
Meanwhile, for Kohli the extra responsibility of captaincy hardly made any difference. By the time he was leading the side in ODIs for the first time, he had 22 ODI hundreds to his name. Since taking over the mantle from Mahendra Singh Dhoni he has already added 18 more to his tally in 65 matches. And like always, he has a staggering average of 82.78 with the bat as a captain.
But it doesn’t matter who overtakes whom. As the current coach of the Indian cricket team would have said, in the end cricket will be the winner, especially Indian cricket to witness such stalwarts in successive generations.
(Statistics by Arun Gopalakrishnan)