Virat Kohli smashed two tons in the first Test at the Adelaide Oval © Getty Images
Virat Kohli smashed two tons in the first Test at the Adelaide Oval © Getty Images

Virat Kohli scored twin centuries in the first Test against Australia, while Rohit Sharma failed to  put bat to ball in the second innings. Shiamak Unwalla feels the pair are the embodiments of the age-old “talent vs temperament” debate.

Virat Kohli has scored Test centuries in South Africa, New Zealand, and Australia. He has been the backbone of India’s One-Day International (ODI) line-up for years now. And he is perhaps the batsman Australia will be most wary of in this series. Rohit Sharma is one of the most precociously talented batsmen in the world. He has the ability to play shots few can even attempt. He recently scored 264 in an ODI, his second limited-overs double century.

On the face of it, these two batsmen ought to have been in a constant battle for top billing in India’s line-up. And yet, the discrepancy in performances between them is mind-numbing. While Kohli has consistently been India’s best batsman across formats, Rohit has had limited success in Tests, while only recently establishing himself in ODIs.

Below is a comparison of their Test records:

Name

M

Runs

HS

Ave

SR

100s

50s

Virat Kohli

30

2111

141

43.08

51.94

8

9

Rohit Sharma

8

538

177

44.83

53.53

2

1

While it is apparent that Rohit enjoys a better record in the longest format of the game than Kohli does, it is easily explained; Rohit started his Test career with back-to-back tons against West Indies in 2013, but has since scored a single half-century against New Zealand. In that same period, Kohli scored tons in South Africa, New Zealand, and now in Australia.

However, if one takes a look at Kohli and Rohit’s First-Class records, the distinction between them becomes even more apparent:

Name

M

Runs

HS

Ave

100s

50s

Virat Kohli

61

4299

197

48.85

15

17

Rohit Sharma

66

5340

309*

58.68

18

21

Based on these statistics, Rohit is a far superior batsman than Kohli. He averages 10 notches more than Kohli, has more runs, centuries and half-centuries than Kohli. He once scored twin hundreds in a Ranji Trophy final, and brought up one of those hundreds with a six. In domestic cricket, Rohit’s raw talent makes him look like perhaps the finest young batsman in the country.

Rohit Sharma pushed at the ball in the second innings and was caught at leg-slip © Getty Images
Rohit Sharma pushed at the ball in the second innings and was caught at leg-slip © Getty Images

And yet, when facing an international attack on foreign soil, what is more telling is the way the two batted in the first Test at Adelaide. While Kohli was unstoppable and seemed fluent in every way, Rohit seemed like he was out of his depth. He played and missed on numerous occasions, and looked like a nervous wreck in the second innings. He was finally put out of his misery when he poked at a typical off-spinner from Nathan Lyon with hard hands. For a man who has a reputation of playing spin effortlessly, this dismissal spoke of a lack of confidence and inability to adjust to the high-pressure situation.

Adelaide was probably the best batting track India will get in the Test series. The pitch for the second Test in Brisbane is expected to be much quicker. Rohit looked so overwhelmed at Adelaide that the signs are not encouraging for Brisbane. That he has the talent to cope with the extra pace and bounce is unquestionable. It is only his temperament that could use some work.

On the other hand, Kohli’s knocks will hold him in good stead for the remainder of the series. The control that Kohli exuded at all times in Adelaide suggests that The Gabba will likely see a few more of those classy drives and trademark flicks.

(Shiamak Unwalla, a reporter with CricketCountry, is a self-confessed Sci-Fi geek and cricket fanatic. You can follow him on Twitter @ShiamakUnwalla)