Virat Kohli vs Sachin Tendulkar: A statistical comparison through contrasting eras

The Delhi-based cricketer tumbled down a plethora of records with his blistering 116-ball 100 at Premadasa, but what left the analysts and few legends of game rather astonished is that at such an early part of his career and at such a young age, Kohli seems to be slowly and silently inching towards the cricketing records set by Master Blaster Sachin Tendulkar.

By Aratrick Mondal | Last Updated: Sep 04, 2017, 18:37 PM IST

New Delhi: India skipper Virat Kohli carved yet another masterful innings with the willow as he notched up his 30th ODI ton to defeat Sri Lanka and wrap up a historic clean sweep in the One-Day International series at Colombo yesterday. And soon a new discussion initiated among the fans and analysts – Does Virat Kohli have the ability to surpass Sachin Tendulkar's records?

After losing both the openers early into their innings, Kohli (110) combined with Manish Pandey (36) to stitch a 99-run stand for the third wicket and then weaved a 109-run stand alongside Kedar Jadhav (63) to steer the Indian ship past the modest target of 239 runs set by Upul Tharanga's men. En route, the 28-year-old smashed his 30th ODI ton to equal Ricky Ponting's tally of ODI centuries and also became the first batsman in 2017 to cross the 1000-run mark in the 50-over format.

The Delhi-based cricketer tumbled down a plethora of records with his blistering 116-ball 100 at Premadasa, but what left the analysts and few legends of game rather astonished is that at such an early part of his career and at such a young age, Kohli seems to be slowly and silently inching towards the cricketing records set by Master Blaster Sachin Tendulkar.

In terms of ODIs, Kohli now maybe still miles away from breaking Sachin's tally of 49 tons and he didn't shrug it off. "The great man (Sachin Tendulkar) is quite a bit away. That's going to take a hell of an effort," Kohli said, although he did add, "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." But legends of the game reckon that he can do it. Well, he does have age left on his side and above that, he did surpass a few of Tendulkar's record and equalled a few.

At the top, during the Windies tour, Virat had notched up a century in the final ODI game of the series at Sabina Park, Kingston that helped clinch a victory in favour of the tourists. And hence, the skipper leapfrogged Sachin's record of most centuries (18) in a successful chase, that too in fewer innings.

And more recently, to be precise...today, the 28-year-old equalled Sachin's 19-year-old ODI record. Following his elegant performance in the format, Virat, who stayed atop of the ODI rankings chart for batsmen, has now accumulated a career-high 887 points. Incidentally, it was the highest ODI ratings ever achieved by an Indian batsman. Well, the Little Master had recorded the mark back in 1998, the year he had amassed the most runs (1894) by a batsman in a calendar year.

Ergo, the question – Does Virat Kohli have the ability to surpass Sachin Tendulkar's records?

Virat Kohli's present age – 28 years and 302 days. Going by stats – Sachin, the exact same age, had amassed 11,069 runs in 278 innings at an average of 43.92. While Kohli has a total of 8537 runs after playing 186 innings, with an average of 55.75. The senior lies a mark over the latter's century mark but stays distant in terms of the fifties scored in ODIs. Interestingly, both are the only players to have notched up more ODI tons as compared to their age.

In fact, Kohli's average in the 50-over format is more than that of his idol. Although both faced a slow start, for Kohli's he took brilliantly thereafter to hover above the 40 mark, with his present at 55.75. He is the only batsman to have a 50-plus average in all formats of the game. While for Sachin, it stayed on or above the 40 mark.

Accounting both their numbers at 50th Test, Sachin had amassed 3438 runs at an average of 49.82 with 11 centuries and 16 half-centuries. While Kohli, who had reached the mark during the England series last year, had amassed 3891 runs at an average of 48.03 with 14 hundreds and 13 half centuries. Impressive for the present India skipper, isn't it? Kohli now has an average of 49.55 after 60 Test matches, playing 101 innings, but when compared a to few of his counterparts of this generation, numbers push him behind. Ergo, in this aspect, Tendulkar outperforms the youngster. At Kohli's age, the Master Blaster maintained top position when compared to batsmen of his generation.

Now coming to captaincy role. Is it Sachin, is it Virat? It is Virat, going by numbers.

The Delhi dasher had taken on the Test responsibility right after the Boxing Day Test match against Australia in December 2014. Since then, he has led the squad into 29 Test matches winning 19 of them and losing in just three. His win percentage stands at 65.51 per cent. His incredible run in the longer format of the game remains his current winning spree. In the home series in the 2016-17 season, the Indian team won 12 out of their 13 matches which even saw the side grabbing the No. 1 spot in Test cricket rankings. And of late, they recorded a historic clean sweep of the Sri Lankan team in Lanka, becoming the first Indian side to record it. He also has second most win in Test cricket on foreign soil, standing behind Sourav Ganguly's 11. And adding to it, with Sri Lanka series win he surpassed Steve Waugh's record of seven consecutive series win. He now stands one behind Ricky Ponting's nine.

While for Sachin Tendulkar, the experience has turned out all sweet. Giving the responsibility at an early age of 25, the right-handed batsman led his side to just four victories in 25 Test matches recording a total of nine defeats. Former Indian pacer Javagal Srinath, during an India Today enclave said, "Some of us could not emulate what he wanted." The pacer continued, "That is his ability to connect with the game. Those three hours in practice you would not see him while away his time. Even the optional practice he never missed. To expect the same from others was tough."

Virat's captaincy record even stands out in ODI cricket. With 27 victories in 35 matches, his win percentage stands out an incredible 79.41 per cent. While that of Sachin was 35.07 per cent (23 wins in 73 matches). In fact, after India's win in the second ODI match against Sri Lanka, Virat had edged past Sachin's captaincy record in this format of the game. He now stands fifth on the list behind – Mohammad Azharuddin (90), Sourav Ganguly (76), Dhoni (74 wins), Rahul Dravid (42) and Kapil Dev (39).

But can two stalwarts be compared with mere numbers? Both belonged to two different eras in cricket. One which Tendulkar had and something that Pakistani legend Mohammad Yousuf had described it as – “Some might not agree but I don’t think today we have the same quality bowlers or batsmen that we had when I played. Look at Australia’s present bowling lineup they have no one to match Glenn McGrath or Shane Warne, India had Anil Kumble, Srinath, and some very good bowlers. South Africa and West Indies also had strong bowling attacks while Sri Lanka relied heavily on Muralitharan,” Yousuf said in an interview to Geo Super channel.

And the other is Kohli, the generation that is packed with more tours and series and now with T20I joining each fixture and drawing a larger crowd, the competition to survive in a market where all-rounders have more demands, is indeed difficult. In fact, former Soth African cricketer Jonty Rhodes, in a recent interview had said, "Tendulkar started at the age of 16 and played until the age of nearly 40, for almost 24 years and set several benchmarks. I don’t know if Kohli can play for such a long time, given the demands of a modern-day cricketer."

Even for captaincy, former skipper Sourav Ganguly had said that Virat Kohli is yet to face his true challenge. With few legends supporting it that India can truly justify their dominance in cricket if they can emulate the same in England and South Africa. 

Regardless of all, people will continue the comparison. Each time Virat plays another blistering knock, there will be a renewed discussion about it. And ergo the numbers to support your cause in the debate.