By the numbers: Can Kohli top Tendulkar?

A closer statistical look at the ODI careers of Sachin Tendulkar and Virat Kohli

Virat Kohli’s 30th one-day international century on Sunday has again raised the question of just how close the current India skipper will get to the ODI batting record of Sachin Tendulkar, which was once considered untouchable.

Kohli’s 30th ton, an unbeaten 110 against Sri Lanka in Colombo, drew him level with Ricky Ponting as the second-most prolific century-maker in ODI history. Incredibly, given the Australian’s lofty standing in the game, it took Kohli (186 innings) roughly half the number of innings as Ponting (365) to reach the mark.

And all this more than two months before his 29th birthday.

Based on Kohli’s current rate of more than three centuries a year, the once unthinkable prospect of Tendulkar’s mark of 49 ODI centuries being surpassed is now a very real possibility.

Even if the man himself admits it will take “a hell of an effort” to chase down the legendary Indian.

“The great man is quite a bit away,” Kohli said on Sunday. “That’s going to take a hell of an effort.

“Again, I am not thinking about that. It’s only about the team where even if I score a 90 not out and the team goes across the line, it’s good enough for me.

“It’s an honour for me to equal someone like Ricky Ponting. That’s not something that you aim for but obviously he’s a great player and as batsmen we all respect what these legends have done.”

SACHIN v VIRAT

 

The Raw Numbers

 

Sachin Tendulkar

M: 463 | R: 18426 | Ave: 44.83 | 100s: 49 | 50s: 96 | SR: 86.23 | HS: 200*

Virat Kohli

M: 194 | R: 8587 | Ave: 55.75 | 100s: 30 | 50s: 44 | SR: 91.72 | HS: 183

The changing game

 

Any comparison of players from different eras must always come with a rider that all games develop over time. And no game has developed at quite the speed that one-day cricket has over the past three decades.

One-day internationals have changed immeasurably since Tendulkar played his first ODI way back in 1989, the year after Kohli was born.

The introduction of Twenty20 cricket has played a major role in emboldening batsmen to adopt a more reckless approach against the white ball, leading to faster scoring rates, higher scores and more milestones in 50-over cricket.

Of the 35 highest team totals in ODI history, 34 have been scored since the turn of the century, 25 in the past decade and 17 in the past five years.

And while Tendulkar and India were at the forefront of the progression of one-day cricket in the 1990s and early 2000s, the game has moved forward at an even faster rate since.

How many centuries would Tendulkar have scored had his career started 10 or 15 years later? Like most factors in this debate, that is an unknown.

How does Tendulkar compare?

 

With 8587 runs and 30 centuries after 194 games, Kohli holds a significant advantage over Tendulkar at the same stage of his career.

Tendulkar played his 194th ODI in July 1998, at which point he had 6942 runs and ‘just’ 16 centuries.

Kohli’s average (55.75 to 40.59), strike rate (91.72 to 85.33) and half-centuries (44 to 42) also put him well ahead of his predecessor at the same stage of his career.

While comparing eras is always fraught, the younger man has made a rapid start in his pursuit of Tendulkar’s record.

How is Kohli tracking?

 

Based purely on Kohli’s current rate, he could break Tendulkar’s record of 49 centuries before his 35th birthday.

Kohli currently scores a century every 6.47 games and over the course of his career has played roughly 21 matches per year. Based on those numbers, he will score his 50th ODI century some time in 2023.

That, of course, is based on the assumption that Kohli can maintain the incredible pace he has set so far in his career.

As India’s captain in all three formats, as well as the skipper of his IPL franchise, it would be entirely expected that he would have a dip in form at some stage over the next six years.

But India’s love of ODI cricket shows no signs of abating; while they played just 13 ODIs in 2016, a year dominated by Test cricket, they have averaged around 23 ODIs per year over the past five years.

If Kohli’s mind and body is willing, Tendulkar’s record appears his for the taking.

 

This article was originally written by Martin Smith for cricket.com.au and can be read here

India’s bench strength translates into success on field: Nikhil Chopra

Cricket, the gentleman’s game, is a sport that many see as a 11 vs 11 battle on the field. But Virat Kohli’s warriors are redefining that notion.

The secret to Team India’s stunning success over the last 2 years on the field is largely down to the quality of its bench strength. India now possesses a group of about 15 to 20 world beaters who have given Kohli the arsenal to win in any condition.

Former India cricketer Nikhil Chopra agrees, “It is not just a group of 15 or 18 or 20 even players, what is happening in Indian cricket setup is that you have core staff of Ravi Shastri and his support staff then you have physios and other staff as well to help the players. So when the team performs everything in the background makes a big difference and has played its part and this is what the BCCI has been able to do,” says Nikhil who is a regular at the National Cricket Academy (NCA) to groom youngsters and provide his valuable inputs.

 

Team India whitewashed hosts Sri Lanka in the Test (3-0), ODI series (5-0) and registered a thumping win in the lone T20I and each player in the squad played his part. While Sri Lanka is not a force to be reckoned with any more, Kohli and the boys still had to beat the opposition on its home soil.

“You never go into a competition thinking whether the opposition is weak or strong, at the end of the day they are also representing their country and they have their problems but whatever we could do we are doing that.

“At the end of the day we are playing as professional cricket and we are playing as a unit. You talk about execution of plans and being very clinical and you have been at the top of your game make no mistake about it. Team is making some changes and role identifications for 2019 World Cup and everything is working for Team India and this is probably the strongest Indian teams we have seen both in terms of batting and bowling and in terms of the number of match winners, it is a great side,” says Nikhil.

Nikhil has a point, just take a look at the options Virat has at his disposal in the Test arena. Since the 2015 World Cup eight Indian batsmen average more than 45 in Tests, while in ODIs too the batsmen have done a commendable job.

 

India batsmen in Tests since 2015 World Cup

 Batsman  Matches  Runs  Average  100/50
 Kohli  27  2111  54.12  7/4
 Pujara  24  2034  59.82  7/9
 Rahane  26  1732  49.48  6/6
 Vijay  20  1220  39.35  4/5
 Rahul  17  1212  48.48  3/9
 Ashwin  28  1028  49.94  2/7
 Dhawan  13  999  52.57  4/1
 Saha  24  965  46.95  3/5
 Jadeja  20  772  36.76  0/7
 Rohit  11  522  32.62  0/5
 Hardik  3  178  59.33  1/1

India batsmen in ODIs since 2015 World Cup

 Batsmen  Matches  Runs  Average  100/50
 Kohli  36  2050  75.92  8/11
 Rohit  28  1517  60.68  6/7
 Dhawan  29  1272  45.42  3/9
 Dhoni  31  1159  50.39  1/7
 Rahane  24  994  41.41  1/10
 Jadhav  28  609  50.75  2/2
 Hardik  12  308  34.22  0/2
 Manish  11  347  49.57  1/2
 Rahul  9  248  35.42  1/1

 

Test experts Pujara and Rahane have been impressive and have been helped by all-rounders like Ashwin, Saha and Jadeja. They have allowed captain Kohli to play his aggressive strategy of five batsmen and five bowlers and chase victories.

The likes of Rohit Sharma, Kedar Jadhav and Hardik Pandya execute that role in the shorter formats, and then there are the likes of KL Rahul and Manish Pandey, who have largely impressed in the opportunities they have got. Rare is the case now that the entire batting lineup fails, there is always someone who stands up for the team, and if all else fails then there is always MS Dhoni!

The case of Shikhar Dhawan is a great example, he was called up for the tour of Sri Lanka after injury concerns for M Vijay and Rahul and ‘gabbar’ grabbed the opportunity with both hands slamming two centuries in the Test series. Once again it is down to Team India’s ‘bench strength’ says Nikhil, “If we talk about the bench strength, then for any tour when the Indian Team is travelling there are 4 or 5 players who are always on standby at the National Cricket Academy training and practicing for the simple reason that God forbid if any player gets injured in the main team then you have a substitute ready who is ready to fly out and fill in those shoes so there is a continuous circle going on. The BCCI what they have done is phenomenal, in the NCA as a spin coach you have Narendra Hirwani, you have got W Raman as batting coach, there are fielding coaches there, there are physios, there are trainers who help you with fitness, so every aspect of your game is being taken care of. Players are always on the verge of ‘go’, you get the call and you get on the flight and you are looking to give your 100 percent.”

Even in the bowling department, Kohli can pick and chose from among a group of 8-9 bowlers, all of whom can win him the match on any given day.

Test experts Pujara and Rahane have been impressive and have been helped by all-rounders like Ashwin, Saha and Jadeja. They have allowed captain Kohli to play his aggressive strategy of five batsmen and five bowlers and chase victories.

The likes of Rohit Sharma, Kedar Jadhav and Hardik Pandya execute that role in the shorter formats, and then there are the likes of KL Rahul and Manish Pandey, who have largely impressed in the opportunities they have got. Rare is the case now that the entire batting lineup fails, there is always someone who stands up for the team, and if all else fails then there is always MS Dhoni!

The case of Shikhar Dhawan is a great example, he was called up for the tour of Sri Lanka after injury concerns for M Vijay and Rahul and ‘gabbar’ grabbed the opportunity with both hands slamming two centuries in the Test series. Once again it is down to Team India’s ‘bench strength’ says Nikhil, “If we talk about the bench strength, then for any tour when the Indian Team is travelling there are 4 or 5 players who are always on standby at the National Cricket Academy training and practicing for the simple reason that God forbid if any player gets injured in the main team then you have a substitute ready who is ready to fly out and fill in those shoes so there is a continuous circle going on. The BCCI what they have done is phenomenal, in the NCA as a spin coach you have Narendra Hirwani, you have got W Raman as batting coach, there are fielding coaches there, there are physios, there are trainers who help you with fitness, so every aspect of your game is being taken care of. Players are always on the verge of ‘go’, you get the call and you get on the flight and you are looking to give your 100 percent.”

Even in the bowling department, Kohli can pick and chose from among a group of 8-9 bowlers, all of whom can win him the match on any given day.

 

India bowlers in Tests since 2015 World Cup

 Bowlers  Matches  Wickets  Best  Economy
 Ashwin  28  173  7/59  2.81
 Jadeja  20  110  7/48  2.30
 Umesh  22  51  4/32  3.15
 Shami  13  39  4/66  2.87
 Ishant  16  31  5/54  2.79
 Bhuvneshwar  6  16  5/33  2.45
 Kuldeep  2  9  4/40  3.22
 Hardik  3  4  2/31  2.96

India bowlers in ODIs since 2015 World Cup

 Bowlers  Matches  Wickets  Best  Economy
 Bumrah  21  41  5/27  4.68
 Umesh  22  31  3/30  6.31
 Bhuvneshwar  26  29  5/42  5.36
 Axar  21  25  3/34  4.26
 Hardik  21  23  3/31  5.46
 Ashwin  15  17  3/28  5.36
 Jadhav  28  14  3/29  5.19
 Jadeja  17  12  2/43  5.25
 Kuldeep  7  11  3/41  3.97

 

It is skipper Virat Kohli’s mission to pick the best 15 from a core group of 20-25 players for ‘mission 2019 World Cup’.

“The best thing is transparency. We will address it and tell them that this is a bunch of 20-25 people, who will make the probable-list for the World Cup and everyone has an equal opportunity to be tested at different stages. It’s going to be a challenge among all the bowlers and the spinners that are going to be in the part of the bigger group to make it to the 2019 World Cup. As I said, we don’t want to be predictable in any way and we want to have an X-factor if possible with the bowling attack as well,” said the India skipper.

Let us hope the young guns keep pushing the seniors in the squad, so that only the best wear the famed Indian blue jersey at the 2019 World Cup.

 

This article was originally written by Shobhit Kumar Mittal for India Today can be viewed here