By: Tarun Joshi
There has been a huge debate going on from past few years about comparison between Virat Kohli and Sachin Tendulkar. The debate had always been put to a stop by saying that it is too early to compare the two greats. It is always said that Kohli is too young, and one can’t compare, and also the debate lacked proven data.
Now it has been almost 10 years that Virat Kohli is in the field, and we have substantial data to evaluate the two greats. Let us put a logical end to this debate, and exactly see when Kohli will be able to surpass the Master, or will he?
Starting with the basic statistics of Sachin and Kohli, i.e. their performance till date:
Though we can see that Kohli has been performing better in terms of his average, and innings taken to score a hundred compared to Sachin. If we have to see mere statistics it seems simple that Kohli will surpass master’s record eventually and it just a matter of time. But is there any catch, let us analyze, by breaking it down:
|Player||Type||No. of Innings||Runs||Average||100s||50s||Ratio: Innings per hundred|
Sachin and Kohli’s performance trend in ODI and Test matchs:
From the above graph we can observe that, Kohli is performing way better in ODIs than Sachin, and if this is the trend going to be, Kohli will definitely surpass Sachin at one stage. But in Test matches they both have scored almost same number of runs at the end of 106 innings, which is Kohli’s current number of innings played in test matches.
Early bird Sachin: Early debut makes a difference
Sachin had his debut in ODI and test cricket at the age of 16 years. Kohli on the other hand made his debut at the age of 20 years in ODI, and at the age of 23 year in Test Matches. And thus it is simple to assume that Kolhi will not be able to play as much as Sachin did. Sachin has an edge of starting his cricketing career much early. He is 4 and 7 years ahead in ODI and Test respectively than Kohli.
Number of ODI, Test and T20 matches played per year
Do we see any difference in Number of matches played during Sachin’s era and Kohli’s era? Certainly we do! With the introduction of T20 cricket and domestic leagues, there has been a reduction in number of Tests and ODIs being played per year, and Kohli has a disadvantage here because of that.
Here is the average number of ODI, Test and T20s played every year in last 10 years:
|Average Test matches played per year in last 10 years (2008-2017)||Average ODI matches played per year in last 10 years (2008-2017)||Average T20 International matches played per year in last 10 years (2008-2017)|
Based on above fact, let us assume that Kohli will also play till the age of 40 years, like Sachin did, or another 10 years (a year less than Sachin’s). Then on an average India will play another 260 ODIs, 105 test matches, and 90 T20I. The data is with as assumption that Kohli will play as consistent as he is playing now. Though it is not necessary that Kohli will play all the matches played by India, if God had a tennis elbow, no one can survive missing some matches.
Is Kohli going to play as consistent as he is playing now? Will his performance drop? Was Sachin consistent with the age? Was Sachin better than Kohli at the age of 29 years (Kohli’s current age)?
Young Sachin Vs Young Kohli: Sachin and Kohli at the age of 29 years old:
Sachin and Kohli at the age of ~29 year
|Player||Type||No. of Innings||Runs||Average||100s||50s|
Referring to the table above, Sachin’s average in tests drastically decreased, though it has slightly improved in ODI before the age of 29 and after. Overall, it can be said that Sachin’s performance decreased slightly after 29 years of age compared to his performance before. Sachin’s century conversion rate also got reduced after 29 years of age. Though it is commendable to keep the performance this consistent throughout his cricketing career, and that is why he par with many other greats of his era.
Sachin after the age of 29, i.e from 30 -40 years of age:
Does the age matter?
If we also look at the Age Vs Performance pattern of the cricketers as a result of a research* done on 80 batsmen, we can see that a cricketer peak from the age of 31 to 33 years of age, and starts to lose the performance after the age of 36 years.
Also, the research do suggest that batting-average from 20 to 30 years of age is lesser than average from 30-40 years of age. And thus it can be assumed that Kohli’s performance will not drop after 29 years of age till 40 years of age. But still let us assume the worst that his performance will drop slightly as it was in the case of Sachin, and analyze further.
So how it is going to be: The conclusion
In next ten years, even if we assume Kohli’s average will drop by 1 from his current average to 54, and he will play 220 ODI innings, keeping in mind that he will miss 40 ODIs in coming 10 years, Kohli will make another 11880 runs in ODIs in next 10 years, making his total to 20910. And thus he will surpass Sachin’s record in his 368th – 388th inning in the year 2025.
With the same assumption, in coming 10 years out of 105 test matches, Kohli will play around 95 test matches with around 180 innings, at an average of 53. Although we have seen test average of a batsman generally increases with age, but again we would want to consider the worst.
Kohli will make another 9540 runs in test matches in next 10 years, making his total to 14808 Runs, and it is unlikely that Kohli will be able to surpass Sachin’s record and may remain short by a 1000 runs. But if he plays in alignment to his this year average in Test matches, Kohli will be able to reach this mark much earlier.
Clear advantage to Kohli in T20s, no comparison here with Sachin. Currently Kohli’s batting-average in T20 is quite high, as he was remain ‘not-out’ in many of the matches, thus making his average to 52.89. Though it is highly unlikely that he will be able to play with such an average through-out, looking at the format of T20, and will end up with an average of 35 (omitting the not-outs).
With the same assumptions as above, in next 10 years, there will be 90 T20I, out of which Kohli will play, 70 Innings, and missing out of 20 matches. Kohli will score at a minimum average of 35 (barring all the not outs), and will make another 2450 runs, making his total to 4406
As we saw above, Sachin’s century conversion rate reduced after 29 years of age, and he started to take more innings to make a century. If we consider the same for Kohli, and not go by our gut feeling that Kohli’s hunger for playing bigger innings will increase, we can assume that his century conversion rate will increase by 1 inning in both tests and ODIs. Thus it will be 6.3 innings/100 in Tests, and 7 innings/100 in ODIs. By this ratio Kohli will make another 29 hundreds in test matches, and 32 hundreds in ODIs. Totaling his tally to 49 hundreds in Tests and 64 hundreds in ODIs
And finally Kohli and Sachin at the end of their career:
|Player||Type||No. of Innings||Runs||Average||100s||Ratio: Innings per hundred|