When Virat Kohli scored his 10,000th ODI run at Visakhapatnam in the 2nd ODI against West Indies, he eclipsed his batting hero Sachin Tendulkar as the fastest to the milestone, with his former captain MS Dhoni at the non-striker’s end. Co-incidentally, both the batsmen – Kohli, Dhoni – are the latest additions to the 10,000 ODI runs club.
But with Kohli becoming the fastest to 10,000 ODI runs club, who is more deserving of the milestone between the current record holder Kohli and his predecessor Sachin Tendulkar.
Let’s do a comparative study of Sachin, Virat’s ODI journey to 10,000 ODI runs.
The initial journey
Sachin started as a middle-order batsman in ODIs. In fact, he gets to open the innings in his 70th match in ODIs due to an unfit opener in Navjot Singh Sidhu for the Auckland ODI vs New Zealand in 1994, five years after playing his first ODI. He made an instant impression, hitting 49-ball 82 with 15 fours and 2 sixes. Since then, he has scored 49 ODI tons, claiming the opener’s slot as his.
So, his late admission as a top-order batsman saw him lose out on overs to score runs and hence, he took 259 innings to reach the landmark, 54 more than Kohli.
Meanwhile, Kohli always started his ODI career as a top-order batsman, cracking his first ton in just his 14th match. Tendulkar took 79 ODIs to score his first ton.
In terms of consistency, Kohli wins this battle hands down. He scored 37 tons, averaging 59.62 and took 205 innings to reach his 10,000 ODI runs. Tendulkar’s average never crossed 50 in ODIs although he played as an opener for most of his limited-overs career.
Tendulkar was too a master chaser, cracking 17 tons in the ODI chases, in his entire 463 matches. He won 14 of those matches. But Kohli has done it better and counting. He has already cracked 22 tons in chases, with 20 coming off in wins.
During Tendulkar’s times, Indian batting line-up depended heavily on him for giving the good starts and anchoring the innings to the finish lines. There has been numerous instances of Sachin winning the matches or even tournaments singlehandedly – The 1998 Coca Cola Cup in Sharjah was a one-man effort. His scalp was the most prized one as wickets used to tumble after his dismissal – The 1996 WC semis against Sri Lanka is a good example.
In comparison, Virat Kohli has over the past couple of seasons become the pivot in India’s batting line-up, but gets able support from the likes of Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan in ODIs. If Kohli fails, Rohit, Dhawan lead the scoring charts. India are not entirely dependent on Kohli like how it was in Sachin’s case. But yes, Kohli has shouldered most of the batting responsibility on his shoulders in the past few seasons.
The go-to man in title rounds
Sachin Tendulkar lifted his game during important matches or in the title rounds. He won the 1998 Coca Cola Cup with two straight tons against the mighty Australians. He was the architect of many memorable India’s wins in the finals.
In comparison, Kohli’s records in ODI finals are shocking, to say the least. In 8 tournament finals in ODIs, he has scored just 154 runs @ 22.00 with not a single fifty to his credit. Tendulkar has 1851 runs @54.44 in 40 tournment finals in ODIs with 6 tons and 10 fifites.
Contribution in won matches
Kohli wins this battle as he averages 78.47 in 128 ODIs with 31 tons coming in victories. He has scored 7220 runs out of 10076 in won matches, a winning percentage of 71.66. In Comparison, Tendulkar, overall, has a batting average 56.63 in won matches with 33 tons coming in victories. Tendulkar has scored 11157 out of 18426 in won causes, a winning percentage of 60.55.
Kohli and Tendulkar were around the same age when both reached 10,000 ODI runs. But Tendulkar played for 12 more years since that milestone and scored another 8000 runs. Kohli can cross Sachin’s tally if he plays in the same vein and maintains his fitness.
At current form, strike rate, average, Kohli was on par with Tendulkar during their 10,000 run-mark, if not better. But it would be no surprise if Kohli passes the Indian great quicker than expected.
(Note: The stats are till the second ODI at Visakhapatnam between India and West Indies)