Steve Smith has made a great comeback to Test cricket after serving a ban for a year due to ball-tampering. In his three Test innings so far in 2019, he has already racked up scores of 144, 142 and 92 before he has to miss a Test due to concussion.
He is set to play the next Test in the Ashes. Thanks to his twin tons in Birmingham Test, Smith jumped to the third spot in the ICC Test rankings. The top spot is still held by Indian skipper Virat Kohli.
But the form Smith has shown in his comeback to Test cricket, it looks Kohli’s position as the top Test batsman is under threat.
Kohli has been the No 1 Test batsman for quite some time, thanks to his consistent scores in this format, at both home and away, since he took over as captain in 2014.
But who between Kohli and Smith will top the batting charts in Tests at the end of 2019.
Cricwizz makes a review of their current status and how many opportunities the two have in the race for the top spot in Tests in 2019.
Thanks to the overdose of limited-overs cricket, including IPL and World Cup, in the first half of the year, the two stars are almost at the same level in Test cricket. The two stars have played just two Tests so far. But Smith has been ahead of Kohli in terms of runs, number of 50s, and average in the two Tests so far.
Smith has scored 378 runs @126 with two tons and 1 fifty. Kohli has managed just a fifty in 3 innings in 2019 so far, scoring 83 runs. (Kohli’s two Tests include the ongoing North Sound Test.)
Number of Tests pending for Kohli in 2019
India have one Test against West Indies, 3 Tests against South Africa, 2 Tests against Bangladesh left before the year comes to an end. Except for the one Test left against WI, India play their remaining 5 Tests at home.
How it helps Kohli to bag the top spot
India play 5 Tests at home, where Indian batsmen thrive on familiar conditions. Kohli is no different. He also has great Test records against all the three opponents he is set to face this year.
Kohli also relish tough opponents such as South Africa and hence, he would be motivated for a 3-0 whitewash against them and he would love to lead India from the front.
Hence, it won’t be far to see Kohli top-scoring in the Test series against SA and Bangladesh. He would probably end up with 3 tons at least, and close to 800 runs this year in the longer version of the game.
Number of Tests pending for Smith in 2019
Australia have 2 Tests left in Ashes, 2 Tests against Pakistan, and 2 Tests vs New Zealand before the year comes to an end. Australia have six Tests to play, with four matches at home.
How it helps Steve Smith in the race
Considering the form Smith has shown so far in Tests this year, it won’t be wrong to say he may cross the 1000-run barrier. He has close to 400 runs already in 2 Tests in the ongoing Ashes. He will play the next two Tests against England in the Ashes. Smith has a great record against England across all formats. He loves to score against them. He may be due a ton or two in the last two Tests in Ashes.
Besides, Australia face an unpredictable Pakistan and an inconsistent New Zealand in 4 Tests. The two teams are easy meat for Smith to score runs aplenty and pile misery on them.
At least, four tons can be said to be due from Smith’s bat in the next 6 Tests, and at least 600-plus runs before the year come to an end.
Kohli could end up with 800 runs with 3 tons in 8 Tests in 2019, while Smith could score over 1000 runs with 6 tons in 8 Tests. Smith is in a better position to win this battle of emerging the highest run-getter in Tests in 2019.