October 26 2018
So as expected, Virat Kohli coasted past 10,000 ODI runs in record time. It took him just 205 innings to get there. The previous record belonged to Sachin Tendulkar who had done it 259 innings. So Kohli took a whopping 54 innings less to get to the milestone. When Sachin reached the milestone, he averaged 42.64. Kohli currently averages 59.62. Some record that!
Also, it took him just 11 innings to go from 9000 ODI runs to 10000. He did that in 2018 itself. Little surprise there because he was also the fastest in the world to 7000 and 8000 ODI runs. He has also been the fastest as captain to reach 1000, 2000 and 3000 ODI runs. Which is again not so hard to believe considering he has been India’s top ODI run getter in 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2016, 2017 and 2018!
Moreover, he now has 37 ODI centuries. He has 22 while chasing. 20 of those have been in successful chases. 16 of those have come at home. And 14 of them have come as captain. At 37 tons from 205 innings, in the all time list he is just behind Tendulkar who managed 49 in 452 innings. The records are endless and I could go on about how Kohli has broken or is in the process of breaking all of Sachin’s records every time he goes out to bat.
But the question is, is he really outperforming the Master Blaster?
Before we delve into stats, let’s consider a few factors. Scoring in ODIs has become a lot easier these days than during the heydays of Tendulkar. 400 and 350 is being crossed on a regular basis and 300+ has become an everyday score.
Moreover, Kohli, for all his talent, benefits from playing with a talented bunch of individuals who can hold their own with a bat. Rohit Sharma is arguably the second best batsman in the world on current form. Sachin meanwhile had to singlehandedly carry India for the majority of his career. Remember the great Indian batting collapse of the ‘90s?
Moreover, when Sachin was ranked No. 1 in 1999, some of the bowlers in the top 10 rankings include Glenn McGrath, Shane Warne, Curtly Ambrose, Allan Donald, Shaun Pollock, Saqlain Mushtaq and Muttiah Muralitharan. The current top seven are Rashid Khan, Kuldeep Yadav, Trent Boult, Josh Hazlewood, Kagiso Rabada and Imran Tahir. With all due respect to this lot, they cannot be compared to their predecessors from two decades ago.
And considering the bowlers that Sachin and Kohli had to face, the other batsmen from Sachin’s era were not as prolific as the current ones. In the 255 innings to reach 10K, Sachin’s strike rate was 86.52 while other batsmen at that time averaged 71.51. Kohli’s current strike rate is 92.51 while others in this period average 85.99.
Going by this, Sachin exceeds the average margin by 15.01 while Kohli exceeds by just 6.52. Clearly the other batsmen playing currently are also scoring at a much better pace.
Also, when Sachin reached 10K ODI runs, he had won 38 Man of the Match awards, Kohli meanwhile has 30.
There is also the fact that in the first 66 innings of his career, Tendulkar played in the middle order and was not the powerhouse he became once he started opening the innings. If you exclude those matches, till he reached 10000, his average goes up to 46.37 and his strike rate to 89.60.
Kohli averages a hundred ever 5.32 innings but others from his era average one every 16.55 innings. Sachin in the period from 1994 to 2001 averaged a hundred every 6.86 innings while others during the same period averaged one every 24.7 innings. This clearly indicates that Sachin was miles ahead of the rest in his era as compared to Kohli and his contemporaries. It also means that scoring centuries have become a lot easier now.
So unlike what seems to be common consensus, Kohli is not outclassing Sachin by any means even though he is breaking all the records. And personally, it is a disservice to compare these two maestros. We should just be glad that after over two decades of Sachin, we have a batsman of Kohli’s calibre to ease the pain of his retirement. And we should enjoy them both equally.