Kohli’s stats compare favourably to other Indian legends across any statistical category, but to surpass Dravid’s numbers in England will take a miracle.
New Delhi: As the fourth Test of the five-match India-England series gets underway in Southampton, Virat Kohli must feel on top of the world. Not only is he literally the best batsman in the world according to the ICC rankings, but he’s also the top-scorer in this series with 440 in six innings so far.
It’s a far cry from India’s 2014 tour of England, when Kohli had scored just 134 runs in 10 innings.
Kohli’s career graph after 69 Tests shows that he’s on pace to beat virtually every record set by India’s retired legends. But there’s one record that will probably elude him because of that nightmare 2014 tour — to be India’s best batsman in English conditions.
That honour belongs to Rahul Dravid, who has scored 1,376 runs in 13 Tests at an average of 68.60, with six centuries. Other notable performers in England include Sourav Ganguly and Sachin Tendulkar, who averaged 65.35 in nine matches and 54.31 in 17 matches respectively. Sunil Gavaskar’s stats reflect the difficult life for an opener in England’s swing and seam-friendly conditions, as he averaged a rather modest — by his lofty standards — 41.14 in 16 matches.
Up until the end of the previous Test in Nottingham, Kohli has scored 574 runs in eight Tests at an average of 35.87. This means that to match Dravid’s record, he will need to score 121 runs in each of his next 10 innings, if he gets out every time.
In the virtually impossible scenario that he remains not out in all of his next 10 innings, Kohli will still need to score more than 52 runs in each knock to overtake Dravid. Ganguly’s surprisingly excellent record against the moving ball is already insurmountable.
Well on his way to being India’s greatest
Apart from his performance in England, in every other statistical category, Kohli doesn’t just compare favourably to the likes of Gavaskar, Tendulkar and Dravid, but is within touching distance of being India’s greatest ever.
At the same stage of their careers (69 matches), Kohli leads Tendulkar and Dravid in terms of runs scored and centuries. In terms of average, he marginally trails Tendulkar but leads the other two legends.
In terms of average, Kohli’s Test career began rather slowly, as he registered a mark of 41.35 after his first 10 Tests. Tendulkar had also begun his career slowly, at the age of 16, but his average picked up considerably after his first 20 matches and stabilised in the early to mid-fifties. Kohli took more than 60 matches to reach this range.
Gavaskar started on a very high note, with an average of 61 after 10 matches. However, after considerable fluctuations, his average settled down in the early to mid-fifties range. Dravid’s average, meanwhile, almost always stayed in the 50-55 range.
After playing 69 matches, however, all of them had similar averages — Tendulkar registered 55.42, followed by Kohli (54.49), Dravid (53.46) and Gavaskar (53.14). It must be mentioned here that while the others are middle-order batsmen, Gavaskar’s average is exemplary for an opening batsman who played at a time when express fast bowlers were aplenty and there were hardly any minnows to pad stats against.
Runs and centuries
In terms of runs scored, Gavaskar maintained a marginal lead over the other three players at every stage of their careers, though the difference reduces as we move towards 69 matches. Gavaskar had scored 6,218 runs by this stage, while Kohli (5,994) leads Dravid (5,614) and Tendulkar (5,321).
In terms of number of centuries, Kohli is ahead of Tendulkar (20) and Dravid (14) and has the same number (23) as Gavaskar. Dravid was notorious for not converting starts in the early part of his career, which is clearly shown here.
All data sourced from ESPNCricinfo.