Comparison in cricket legends is inevitable. Over the years we have seen some intense evaluations and assessments of players to gauge their greatness. From Bradman versus Hammond to Tendulkar versus Ponting, Kapil versus Imran or Warne versus Muralitharan; there have been some legendary and iconic rivalries in the bygone eras between two contemporaries.
Having shattered most batting records over the past decade, Virat Kohli and Steve Smith have emerged as modern-day batting greats. It is thus inevitable to draw comparisons between the two on the basis of their utter dominance in the modern era.
One fascinating aspect of the duo is their enviable consistency. Its been more than five years, but the duel between them is still fresh and getting better day by day.
There’s always some sort of buzz when Kohli and Smith play against each other. be it India vs Australia or the IPL clashes, these two supremely talented players get the rivalry going.
Smith v Kohli: Stats
In 86 Test matches, Virat Kohli has accumulated 7,240 runs at an average of 53.62 in 145 innings with 27 hundred and 22 fifties; while Steve Smith has featured in 73 matches amassing 7,227 runs in 131 innings at an astounding average of 62.84 with the help of 26 centuries and 29 half-centuries.
Steve Smith has survived 13,068 balls in Test cricket in 131 innings, while Kohli has faced 12,252 balls in his Test career. The fact that both these batsmen play at an identical position — No. 4 — makes the column of total balls faced a potentially valid argument.
The real test of a player’s grit, character, skill and adaptability comes to the fore when they play in overseas conditions. Cricket is a game of variables and the variables are aplenty when it comes to playing Test cricket in different conditions and pitches.
Australia has been the country where Kohli loves to play since his early Test days. The Delhi batsman scored his maiden Test ton at the Adelaide Oval in 2011 and has never looked back since. In the 23 innings Kohli has played down under, he has plundered 1,274 runs at an astonishing average of 55.39. In his three tours to Australia, Kohli’s highest score in 169.
On the other hand, Smith has played 6 Test matches in India and has batted in 12 innings, scoring 660 runs at a phenomenal average of 60. He has three hundred and 1 fifty and the highest score of 178 (not out) against his name in India.
Smith v Kohli: Captaincy
Up until Steve Smith was banned for the infamous ‘Sandpapergate’, him, Kohli and the other two contemporaries in Joe Root and Kane Williamson all were captains of their national sides.
And even as a captain, Steve Smith has a slightly better record than Virat Kohli with 3, 659 runs at a mind-boggling average of 70 in 34 Tests, while the Indian captain hasn’t fared that badly and has 4,515 runs at 62.71 in 46 matches.
A little under a year ago, Virat Kohli became the 14th batsman to reach 10,000 ODI runs milestone. It took him 54 fewer innings that the next faster player, the legendary Sachin Tendulkar.
Yet, as cliche as it sounds, one can score heaps of runs with the white ball, but the ultimate parameter for the greatness will always remain the Test realms.
It is no secret that when it comes to ODI cricket, Virat is head and shoulders above the rest. His white-ball cricket record speaks for itself. The Indian captain averages 60 after 248 ODIs with a small matter of 43 centuries. Just let that sink in for a while. Smith, on the other hand, averages 41 with just 9 tons to his name.
Admittedly, the Delhi batsman’s white-ball record is unparalleled, bordering on the obscene. And no one is even close to claiming that he’s a lesser Test player, far from it. It is just that lack of consistency in Kohli’s game in the longer version, that stops him from answering the long-wavering comparison-bot between him and Smith.
Comparing this pair will go on and we will only find answers when the two retire. Until then, Sachin Tendulkar’s has the final say:
“Let’s not get into comparisons and let us enjoy what both those individuals are doing. They are entertaining the entire cricketing world and it’s a joy for us to watch.”
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