Sachin is the God of Cricket but Virat Surpasses Him: Ashutosh
With an entire generation revering Sachin Tendulkar, will Virat Kohli replace the god of cricket?
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If Sachin Tendulkar is considered the God of cricket, then Virat Kohli can most definitely be called the king of cricket. Saying anything about God these days is not “safe” at all, but Kohli’s recent performance has given rise to a new debate – is Virat better than Sachin?
Although, most experts with a classical approach believe that players from different eras cannot be compared.
With time, a lot of things change – playing styles change, the quality of players changes, the temperament of a pitch changes, audience expectations change, the approach of an entire team changes.
Sachin’s Era vs Virat’s Era
No doubt the cricket played today is very different from what it was during Bradman’s era. The game played by Sunil Gavaskar saw many changes during Tendulkar’s time. Similarly, a difference can be seen between Tendulkar’s era and Kohli’s era.
What doesn’t change is the struggle between a bat and a ball and from this arises the comparison between players.
It is true that Gavaskar played in a team that was always fighting to save defeat, it was not accustomed to winning. With the rise of Sachin the team started winning. In Kohli’s time, the team has such a habit of winning that they can’t stand a loss. In fact, the current period can be called Indian cricket’s golden era.
This is the era where opposing teams are terrified of Team India. Just like at one point people were in awe of Bradman’s team, or how Clive Lloyd used to strike fear in the hearts of his opponents. Steve Waugh and Ricky Ponting’s teams have also been undefeatable during their heydays.
Coming out of Sachin’s Shadow
Virat Kohli’s batting and captaincy have been a major contributor in bringing the Indian cricket team to this level. His presence makes bowlers’ knees quake in their boots. Matching his record seems like a near impossible task for any Indian batsman. He is indisputably the best batsman today.
AB de Villiers, Joe Root, and Kane Williamson are some of today’s great batsmen, but the effect Kohli has on his team, they don’t have that on their respective teams. This is the reason Kohli is being compared to Sachin Tendulkar, because Tendulkar’s presence was the X factor and worked wonders on Saurav Ganguly and Dhoni’s teams. Tendulkar was Indian cricket’s ‘Renaissance Man’.
During the 90s, Tendulkar’s bat worked wonders and with each strike, the Indian team kept attaining new heights, qualitatively changing team’s morale and ultimately becoming world champions
Sachin was called God, he was worshiped by each indian cricket fan – 200 Test matches, 100 centuries in international cricket is no small feat. He was compared with Don Bradman. Wisden called him the biggest cricket player after Bradman. That is why, if today someone says Virat Kohli is better than Tendulkar, it sounds a little odd.
I believe that now this analysis needs to move forward. The perspective has to change. Kohli has played enough cricket to be worthy of the comparison.
Both are Excellent Batsmen
If Tendulkar has played 463 ODI matches then Kohli also has 202 ODIs to his credit. If Tendulkar hit 100 centuries, Kohli also has 50 to his name so far. It is true that in his latter days, Tendulkar got to work with excellent batsmen like Sehwag, Ganguly, Dravid and Laxman.
The batting quality of that team is considered to be the best in Indian cricket so far. Kohli has Shikhar Dhawan, Ajinkya Rahane, and Pujara who are no less than Tendulkar’s companions.
It must be said that at the outset both Tendulkar and Kohli didn’t have to face the kind of pressure Gavaskar had to endure while batting. Gavaskar had to constantly worry about what would happen if he got out, but Tendulkar and Kohli never had to think about that. In this regard, both Tendulkar and Kohli are the same.
It is true that Tendulkar’s career is over and Kohli’s is still going on, so a lot of ups and downs can still come by. Hence, it is easier to assess Tendulkar with much more surety. Despite him being a great batsman, he had two major shortcomings. It has always been said about Tendulkar that he didn’t bat as well under pressure as he did without any pressure.
Batting Average of Virat is Better
In 463 ODIs, Tendulkar’s batting average was 45. But while chasing a target, his batting average dropped. He has played 232 matches while chasing opposition’s score in which his batting average dropped to 42. That means, during the first innings, when the pressure was low, his performance was better.
Interestingly, it is the exact opposite with Kohli. In 202 ODIs, his batting average has been 56, which is higher than Tendulkar’s average by 10 runs per inning.
But Kohli’s real magic is seen during the second innings. In the first innings, he is a bit carefree but in the second one under pressure, his batting has a flair which is better than that of Tendulkar. Kohli has batted in 102 out of 232 chasing opposition’s score . Instead of going down, his batting average has gone up to 61, which is an astonishing record. Chasing this record, the Indian team becomes even more formidable in victory. If Tendulkar’s winning average has been 55, for Kohli it is 84 runs. Somewhere, Tendulkar is left behind.
In this way, Kohli’s chasing record comes down heavily on Tendulkar. While chasing a target, Tendulkar scored 17 centuries in 232 innings, but Kohli scored 17 centuries in just 102 innings (although while batting he has scored 19 centuries so far).
That means here too it is proven that Kohli bats much better than Tendulkar under pressure. He is able to carry the weight of the team all alone and surpasses Tendulkar in his capacity to win. While chasing a target, if Tendulkar has hit 14 centuries, Kohli has 17 to his credit.
At the rate Kohli is playing, he will soon leave Tendulkar far behind.
Tendulkar’s other major shortcoming was his captaincy.
In his autobiography, Tendulkar stated that captaincy did not work for him, after the team’s repeated losses he was very dejected and even told his wife that he had no idea what to do.
Eventually this led him to quit the captaincy. Tendulkar was captain during 25 Tests and 73 ODIs. His batting (as a Captain) figure in the test matches was 51 runs, which can be considered a pretty good score. But here too, Kohli comes out much better with respect to batting.
Who was a Better Captain?
Kohli’s batting average during his captaincy has been 61, ten points higher than Tendulkar. In ODIs too, Tendulkar is miles behind Kohli. Tendulkar scored an average of about 38 runs in 73 innings. Kohli got ODI captaincy much later. So far, he has played 40 innings in which his average has been around 75.
This statistic is historic. It shows that Kohli has gotten even better after getting the responsibility. He has become an even more explosive and formidable player.
Tendulkar, on the other hand, got crushed under the responsibility, and statistics reflect the same. But when Tendulkar had little to no responsibility, his game was enviable. Batting in the beginning of a Test match, a time when there is no psychological pressure of chasing an opposing teams’ score, Tendulkar has scored runs at an average of around 72.
After the first team’s batting, when the Indian team played the first innings, then Tendulkar’s average is 63, which suddenly falls to 43 in the second innings of the Indian team. In the fourth inning, the record is even worse, just 37 runs.
Here it can be argued that Tendulkar always had the pressure of 120 million Indians on his shoulders. While batting, it’s not easy to endure this kind of pressure. But Kohli today has the same pressure on him, plus now he is captain as well. That means he must be under a lot more stress than Tendulkar.
During Tendulkar’s time, it was said about VVS Laxman that he stayed in rhythm as the team got in trouble, his game would get even more beautiful as things progressed. Similarly, Gundappa Vishwanath was also famous. Australian captain Steve Waugh would become almost undefeatable in tough times.
Javed Miandad was also a similar batsman. So, with all these examples, the argument that Tendulkar was under undue pressure isn’t valid. If the pressure won’t be on Tendulkar, then who else?
I believe that Tendulkar is great, he is the god of cricket, but Virat Kohli surpasses him.
This is what the statistics show. Tendulkar’s admirers might not like this statement. But instead they should be happy that Kohli is just taking the legacy forward. Records are meant to be broken. In a comparison between the two great players, my first preference is Kohli, Tendulkar comes second.
(The writer is an author and spokesperson of AAP. He can be reached at @ashutosh83B This is an opinion piece and the views expressed above are the author’s own. The Quint neither endorses nor is responsible for the same. This article was originally published on QuintHindi.)
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