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Can Virat Kohli scale Mount Sachin?

virat and sachin comparision

A statistical comparison between two of the greatest limited overs batsmen of their era


Another match, another Kohli century, another series victory (7 in a row now), another regular day in the office for Virat Kohli and his men. The man of the series performance by Virat Kohli with 263 runs in 3 games at an average of 87.66 and strike rate of 101.15 including 2 centuries. The current batsmanship of Virat Kohli which is making form look permanent has again fuelled the debate that is Kohli on his way to break the ODI records set by the “GOD” Sachin Tendulkar? Can Virat Kohli scale Mount Sachin?

Let’s look at the numbers and analyse the situation.

Name
Matches
Innings
Runs
Average
SR
HS
100s
50s
Virat Kohli
202
194
9030
55.74
91.73
183
32
45
Sachin Tendulkar
463
452
18426
44.83
86.23
200
49
96

After looking at these numbers, we can safely assume that Virat Kohli today is at the halfway mark of the career path carved by Sachin Tendulkar. Yet there are some numbers where he is looking way ahead of the master at the similar stage. Let’s look at both of their careers after 202 ODIs.
Name
Matches
Innings
Runs
Average
SR
HS
100s
50s
Virat Kohli
202
194
9030
55.74
91.73
183
32
45
Sachin Tendulkar
202
195
7454
44.83
85.93
143
19
43

At this stage in his career, Kohli already seems miles ahead of the man who we thought would be untouchable in this format. An argument is that any batsmen is at his peak in the age bracket of 28-32 where he has matured enough with fair bit of experience and Sachin had started wearing national colors as early as at the age of 16. So Sachin only peaked after playing almost a decade for India. To put things into perspective, let’s compared Sachin and Kohli at Kohli’s current age 28.
Name
Matches
Innings
Runs
Average
SR
HS
100s
50s
Virat Kohli
202
194
9030
55.74
91.73
183
32
45
Sachin Tendulkar
268
261
10179
42.58
86.76
186*
28
51

So, at the age of 28, Sachin leads the statistics charts but in both these comparisons, Kohli leads in one area by some margin i.e. the centuries. Kohli’s rate of scoring tons is much higher than that of Sachin. Sachin breached the three-figure mark once every 9 innings while Kohli does it more regularly in every 6th inning he bats.
Sachin’s numbers reflect the longevity the man had. He scored 18,426 runs in a career spanning 463 matches spread over 24 years. Kohli is in his tenth year in international cricket, and fit as he is, it’s unlikely he’ll be around for another 14. However, he might go on till his late 30s, which gives him another decade to score 18 more centuries and 9397 more runs to cross Sachin’s tally. At the rate Kohli is notching up tons today, assuming it falls to more believable level, it can be safely assumed that he will become the first batsman on the planet to score half a ton tons. Consistent as he is, Kohli can breach that bar before 2023 World Cup in India (or in my utopia, he can breach it in the Finals of the 2023 WC in another MoM winning performance while lifting the title for India).

The number of runs are a different matter altogether. Scoring almost 1,000 runs a year for the rest of his career would require crazy consistency, but with the kind of form he’s been in over the last 12 months—he’s averaging over 75 in ODIs—and with the contest between bat-and-ball becoming increasingly lopsided, that’s not a record that’s completely out of reach either but it would be unintelligent to take that for granted.
Another argument that might kick in here is the fitness of Kohli vs fitness of Sachin. Hitherto, Kohli has never faced any injury and missed a match because of niggle while Sachin’s career was plagued with injuries. Yet, the amount of cricket Sachin played over 24 years and amount of cricket happening today is completely different. Sachin played 30 international matches across formats every year on an average and this average rose much later after 2007 when India started playing ridiculous number of series in a year. Also, IPL came only in the far end of Sachin’s career while Kohli became national revelation in IPL before he debuted for India. Kohli plays an average of 35 international matches a year, not to forget leading the team in all three formats which Sachin did for very brief, and add to it 15 IPL games a year. Also, the intensity shown on field by Kohli due to the demand of the situation he finds himself often is much higher than the conditions in which Sachin used to play. Factoring in all these, it would require Herculean efforts by Kohli to stretch his career to the levels of Sachin’s.
These are few reasons which makes this comparison a little unfair. For the first half of his career, Sachin didn’t have a settled batting position. He batted as low as number 7 and middle order before settling to opening the batting. He also bore the weight of a mediocre team alone on his shoulders in the infamous Sachin-out-TV-off times whereas Kohli has spent almost all his years in a team that has dominated the ODI fabric in last decade which makes batting a little easy taking off the pressure of the result.
There are other immeasurable factors such as the quality of bowling attacks, the playing conditions, the balance between the bat and the ball and, most important, the impact Twenty20 cricket has had on batsmanship across formats. Kohli is breed of this glam-sham-bang T20 era. When Sachin made his debut, 250 was a winning score. Yesterday, 337 looked like it was at least 20 runs short. This could be legit explanation for Kohli’s inflated numbers and give us some positive hope that Kohli might just scale Mount Sachin sometime.
Virender Sehwag had once spoken about batsmen finding themselves “in the zone”—a mental space where they could do no wrong. Kohli is in that zone for a while now and doesn’t seem like moving out soon but the law of averages catches up with everyone. Every once in a while, he is bound to find himself on sticky soil where runs wouldn’t come just as easy. There was a brief time somewhere in 2014 where Kohli couldn’t get going and averaged around 18 for 6 months. Every batsman goes through such phases but the best ones come out of it quickly. Kohli can defy his occasional bad form just as quickly but 18,426 ODI runs looks a bit hazy at the moment.







2 comments:

  1. Enjoyed reading in lunch time ! And this was also one table talk topic during lunch . Good one and highly debatable .

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  2. Thank you for your feedback.. Happy that you liked it...Keep watching this space for more such content.

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