Where Does Virat Kohli Rank Among India’s Batting Greats In Test Cricket?
For the first time in years, Virat Kohli’s Test average fell below 50.
Playing over 100 Tests is an achievement in itself. Only 11 players from India have managed to achieve this illustrious feat, out of which only seven are batters. Virat Kohli became the latest inductee after playing his 100th Test earlier this year, against Sri Lanka in Mohali. At one point, when Kohli was still at the peak of his power, it felt only logical that he’ll break the majority of the significant records, even the seemingly herculean feat of Sachin Tendulkar’s 100 centuries.
Read More: With T20I World Cup Ahead, Is Virat Kohli Getting More Privilege Than Other Indian Greats?
But then, a sporting career rarely follows linear progression. The summer of dominance is often followed by a winter of modest returns. The onset of the pandemic brought an abrupt halt to Kohli’s juggernaut, among other things. For the first time in years, his Test average fell below 50, and soon we’re going to enter the third year of Test cricket without Kohli registering a century.
Let’s take a look at how Kohli’s number stacks up against the other Indian legends who have played over 100 Tests.
1. Sachin Tendulkar
200 Tests, 15,921 Runs @ 53.78 100s: 51 50s: 68
After playing 200 Tests, Sachin Tendulkar finished his Test career with close to 16,000 runs at an astounding average of 53.78. Moreover, his record 51 Test centuries looks like a far-fetched dream for anyone. Tendulkar arrived to the international scene as a 16-year-old diminutive kid, and departed as a 37-year-old grown-up man, revered by millions across the globe.
In between, he not only faced but conquered some of the nastiest pace attacks the game has ever seen. Kohli has the same number of ducks to his name as Tendulkar, despite playing 98 fewer games.
2. Rahul Dravid
153 Tests, 13265 Runs @ 52.63 100s: 36 50s: 63
Rahul Dravid, the current head coach of the Indian cricket team, is next only to his long-time colleague Tendulkar in terms of Test appearances. Known as ‘The Wall’, Dravid hung up his boots after 153 Tests, having played over 30,000 balls and amassing 13265 runs at an average of 52.63. He also holds the record for most centuries scored (seven) by an Indian batter against England.
3. Sunil Gavaskar
125 Tests, 10122 Runs @ 51.12 100s: 34 50s: 45
The decade of the 70s blessed India with their first ever batting superstar in the form of Sunil Gavaskar. Not that there were no great batters before him, but none sustained the run-scoring prowess for such a long stretch of time as Gavaskar did. In his illustrious career that lasted almost two decades, Gavaskar managed over 10122 runs at an average of 51.12.
Between 1975 and 1979, Gavaskar averaged just a shade below 60, and played some of the most memorable innings of his life, including his double century at Oval. In the final game of his career, Gavaskar fell agonisingly four-run short of what would have been his 35th century.
4. Virat Kohli
102 Matches, 8074 Runs @ 49.53 100s: 27 50s: 28
Among the Indian batters who have played over 100 Tests, Kohli’s average of 49.53 is the third-best. However, he hasn’t retired yet, and if he overcomes the lean patch, he may well take up his average in excess of 50 again. Only then it would feel like the world has returned to normalcy. Call it cricket’s obsession with round numbers, but an average below 50 is far from a true indication of Kohli’s legacy. He scored his last century three years ago, against Bangladesh at Eden Gardens.
5. Virender Sehwag
103 Matches, 8503 Runs @ 49.43 100s: 23 50s: 31
Virender Sehwag arrived as a middle-order batter, but his fortune changed only when he was promoted to the opening position. He was only five-Tests old when the captain Sourav Ganguly asked him to open the innings, and he didn’t disappoint either, scoring 96-ball 84 at Lord’s.
In his next game, Sehwag ended up slamming a century in Nottinghamshire. After 60 Tests, he had 15 centuries and a batting average second only to Gavaskar. He retired after playing 103 matches, scoring 8503 runs at an average of 49.43.
Featured Image Credit: Virat Kohli/Instagram