Monday , December 11 2023

Is Virat Kohli really as good or better than Sachin Tendulkar? Virat Kohli vs Sachin Tendulkar: Comparing the numbers.

-It is difficult to compare men of two different eras even if their eras somewhat overlap. No statistical exercise can definitively prove that

one player is better than the other. Conditions vary with place and differ more so with time. Then there are other factors. Were the

grounds larger then? Are the bats bigger now? What about the fact that Kohli never faced someone of the calibre of Wasim Akram and

Curtly Ambrose and so on. But numbers can throw up interesting facts, which if nothing else, can arm a fan better the next time a cricket

debate breaks out.


-The chart traces the evolution of Kohli’s average over the 163 ODI innings he has played so far. This is then compared to how


ulkar’s average evolved

match-by-match over the same number of innings.


Both were off to relatively slow starts. However, Kohli dominates. Tendulkar’s average hovers around 40 or below. Kohli’s average is

mostly over the 40 mark and frequently in excess of 50.

But then the game too had evolved from a more even contest between bat and ball, to one dominated largely by the bat. The

introduction of free hits and other big-score friendly innovations seems to have tilted the game in favour of the batsman, besides the

improvement in sporting facilities and support systems.

What about the format which has remained relatively unchanged through the years? Kohli has played 72 Test innings so far and scored

nearly 3,000 runs. Tendulkar scored nearly 300 runs more than Kohli (3,284 compared to 2,994) by the time he played the same number of

innings. His average was also higher.


-A fairer comparison may be to the batsmen of their own generation. Kohli’s 72 Test innings were divided into seven periods. His

average during each period was compared to the median average of the batsman who played between the start of the first and last

innings in each segment. Players who batted after number seven were removed so that results are not skewed by tail-enders.


He outperformed the median test batsman on five out of the seven segments under consideration. He scored seven fewer runs than the

median batsman per innings in the two periods of underperformance. He scored between 10 and 37 runs more than the median batsman

when he outperformed. He beat them in all periods at the 30th percentile mark. This meant that he beat only the bottom 30% of batsmen

at all times.


Tendulkar outperformed at the 50th percentile mark. This means that he scored more runs than 50% of batsman at all times when he was

at the same stage in his career as Kohli. He scored between 2 and 49 runs more than the median test batsmen per innings.

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