Image courtesy: Getty/AFP
Image courtesy: Getty/AFP

Once upon a time, India often ended on the doorstep defeats than victories. Sachin Tendulkar’s arrival gradually changed things. India still did not win a lot. The 90s’ kids have memories of treasuring their Diwali firecrackers and saving some for India wins. A home series would see some of them bursting, but if India were touring overseas, the crackers’ isolation would result them in being damp.

Virat Kohli has always supported a cracker-free Diwali. With his batting he ensures the demand for crackers wouldn’t be met or rather they wouldn’t be able to afford.

Here’s India’s run across formats since the start of 2016-17 season that saw them attain peak positions in Tests and ODIs:

Formats M W L D/NR Success
Tests 16 13 1 2 81.25%
ODIs 28 20 7 1 74.07%
T20Is 7 4 3 0 57.14%

Glad, crackers aren’t preserved for India wins these days or there would have been more climate summits irrespective. Kohli has set his voyage to become India’s most successful captain, and there is no iota of doubt that he has led from the front thus far.

During this phase, he has scored 1,413 runs at over 64 in Tests. He has been slightly off colour in T20Is. The average of 32.5 in these seven matches is something for mortals and greats. His career average is 20 points higher. However, Kohli has maintained a strike rate in excess of 142.33.

But he has marked ODIs as his territory. His average propels to 81.84. In the past one year, he has amassed 1,555 runs at a strike rate touching 100. Add five centuries to the mix. He is at level with Ricky Ponting’s 30 ODI hundreds, the second-most in this format.

Ponting, a great of the game, has played 375 ODIs. In contrast, the Indian skipper has played 199. This is about Kohli’s 200th ODI.

Judging the current numbers it is safe to argue Kohli’s case as the greatest ODI player. Hashim Amla and AB de Villiers threat the title in modern times. Kohli may just edge them out in terms of versatility despite Amla’s consistency and AB’s impact.

Infographics: Virat Kohli’s evolution in 50-overs cricket leading to 200 ODIs
Infographics: Virat Kohli’s evolution in 50-overs cricket leading to 200 ODIs

Comparisons of Kohli with Tendulkar and Viv Richards will not be fair when you consider the eras. Super bats, smaller grounds, inferior bowlers and T20 cricket have propelled scoring in ODIs. The argument finds basis in the fact that it took almost four decades for the first double-century to be registered in this format. And this decade has already seen six.

Also, knowing Kohli’s susceptibility with the red ball outside off-stump, we will never know how he would have fared in day ODIs with the red ball. The conditions in England or New Zealand would have been completely different. Red-ball ODIs were very much active till 2000.

On Sunday, Kohli will become the 14th Indian player to the 200-ODI mark. Let us compare Kohli’s numbers with other great ODI batters (in no order) when they headed to this milestone match.

Players Year M R HS Ave SR 100s 50s
Sachin Tendulkar (1989-2012) 1998 199 7,303 143 41.97 85.7 18 43
Kumar Sangakkara (2000-15) 2007 199 5,772 138* 36.07 74.3 6 39
Ricky Ponting (1995-2012) 2004 199 7,245 145 42.61 77.8 15 41
Sanath Jayasuriya (1989-2011) 2000 199 5,242 151* 28.48 90.3 7 35
Inzamam-ul-Haq (1991-2007) 1999 199 6,475 137* 39.48 72.8 6 47
Jacques Kallis (1996-2014) 2004 199 7,110 139 45.57 71.0 12 49
Sourav Ganguly (1992-2007) 2002 199 7,747 183 43.03 73.7 18 46
Rahul Dravid (1996-2011) 2003 199 6,242 153 38.29 68.2 8 42
Brian Lara (1990-2007) 2002 199 7,370 169 42.60 78.5 14 48
T Dilshan (1999-2016) 2011 199 5,242 160 35.65 87.7 9 21
MS Dhoni (2004 – ) 2012 199 6,632 183* 51.41 88.3 7 44
Adam Gilchrist (1996-2008) 2005 199 6,685 172 35.74 94.6 10 39
Desmond Haynes (1978-94) 1992 199 7,431 152* 42.70 63.3 16 45
AB de Villiers (2005 – ) 2016 199 8,621 162* 54.56 100.2 24 48
Saeed Anwar (1989-2003) 2000 199 7,054 194 38.97 82.4 17 33
Mark Waugh (1988-2002) 2000 199 6,978 130 38.76 77.2 13 44
Virender Sehwag (1999-2013) 2009 199 6,287 130 33.62 100.3 10 33
M Yousuf (1998-2010) 2005 199 6,719 141* 41.22 75.2 11 43
Javed Miandad (1975-96) 1992 199 6,623 119* 43.86 68.2 7 47
Chris Gayle (1999- ) 2009 199 7,290 153* 40.27 82.5 19 38
Michael Bevan (1994-2004) 2003 199 6,028 108* 54.80 74.4 6 39
Virat Kohli (2008 – ) 2017 199 8,767 183 55.13 91.5 30 45

The numbers tell the story, doesn’t it? Yes, Kohli’s dominance is well reflected.

At this stage of career, Kohli had twice the hundreds Ponting had and five times more than what Michael Bevan had. Take the average and strike rate into consideration; de Villiers can be rated the best of the lot. But to Kohli’s defence he always doesn’t have to go ballistic. He thrives better under pressure and has more fifty-plus scores at this stage.

Interesting stories from the table

Sourav Ganguly has his doubters. The theory goes that his technique falls greatly to short-pitched bowling. Despite that, at this stage of career, his numbers read better than Tendulkar’s, except the strike rate.

India vs New Zealand, 1st ODI at Mumbai: 200 ODIs for Virat Kohli, other statistical highlights
India vs New Zealand, 1st ODI at Mumbai: 200 ODIs for Virat Kohli, other statistical highlights

Interesting to note is, only two batsmen in this illustrious list have entered their 200th ODI with a strike rate in excess of 100. Sehwag is an obvious and the other man is AB.

Also, heading into the 200th ODI, Tendulkar had just gone past Desmond Haynes’ tally of 17 hundreds. He continued to hold the world record for most centuries from thereon.

Kohli’s 200th ODI

On Sunday, thousands of noisy spectators will queue up outside Wankhede to witness the game. India will be up against New Zealand, who are at the fifth spot in the ICC ODI Rankings. Last year, India affected a 3-2 defeat and the damage could be more this year. All hopes are pinned on Kohli’s record 31st hundred.