Sachin Tendulkar vs Virat Kohli – Who is the better batsman?
The batting legends of Indian cricket have seen a significant transformation, going from “God of Cricket” to “Run Machine.” The shouts of “Kohli Kohli” have recently replaced those of “Sachin Tendulkar,” which were popular in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Unlike when Sachin used to go, televisions are still turned off when Kohli leaves.
There is no doubt that Sachin and Kohli are two legendary cricket players, and there is a general desire to compare the legends among themselves. The legends are constantly compared, whether it’s Kohli or Rohit, Sachin or Dravid, Ganguly versus Dhoni on captaincy, or the biggest of them all: Sachin Tendulkar or Virat Kohli.
Let’s examine what the two had to say about each other before moving on to their on-field statistics.
When questioned about his thoughts on being compared to Sachin, Virat Kohli responded that it is “unfair” to compare Sachin to any member of his generation because he is the person who got them all interested in cricket.
He claimed that Sachin was the “most complete batsman ever” and that he had no possibility of competing with him in terms of technique.
Comparing himself to Virat, the tiny master sarcastically responded, “How about having both of us (he and Kohli) in one team.”
who has superior statistics, though? Let’s try to determine who is the better batsman between Sachin and Kohli by comparing their ODI performances!
The analysis’s CSV file is openly accessible. From the beginning of ODI cricket to India’s tour to the West Indies in 2019, it included each player’s batting statistics by inning. Runs scored, outs or not outs, balls played, strike rate and other characteristics were included in the data fields.
All of Virat Kohli’s innings from 2009, when he reached his first international century, up to India’s 2019 trip to the West Indies are included in the data used to analyze him.
Similar to this, Sachin’s data for all of the matches he played between 1994 and 2003, a span of nine years beginning with his first international 100, are taken into consideration for analysis.
The totals for the specified periods are compared between the two legends in the first section of this blog. Each parameter is compared to its average value for the relevant period in the following sections, followed by comparisons among the game’s legends.
The questions of who is a better batsman and whether Virat Kohli would be able to surpass Sachin Tendulkar’s records in cricket are attempted to be answered in the conclusion.
Cricket Analytics breakdown
1) Overall Stats
The overall statistics of each batsman during their respective times are contrasted in this section. For comparison, the following factors were taken into account: Batting average, strike rate, the number of centuries and half-centuries, and the average match-by-match contribution to the team’s score.
The result shows that Sachin has played more matches than Kohli in the nine years that were taken into account for them. This is undoubted because of the introduction of the game’s more recent format (T20Is), which has decreased the number of ODIs played by each team. Both have scored about the same number of runs over the time frames under consideration.
Despite playing in fewer games, Kohli has a far higher batting average than Sachin Tendulkar.
Following the same pattern, Kohli has also scored more hundreds in ODI cricket than Tendulkar within the same time period, despite the fact that both players’ average contributions per game and amount of the 50s have been noted to be about equal.
A statistician should be shown this comparison and asked to choose which is better. He will undoubtedly choose Kohli, and why wouldn’t he? In every metric taken into account, Kohli outperforms Sachin.
However, present the same figures to a cricket fan from the 1990s, and he will write entire books detailing Tendulkar’s exploits at that time. He will undoubtedly choose Tendulkar, and why shouldn’t he?
At that time, Tendulkar was the best batsman, scoring thousands of runs. If we compare the generations of Sachin and Kohli, the game has many differences.
The rise of 300+ totals and the number of individual 200s scored throughout this time span indicate that cricket has unquestionably turned into a batsman’s game. Comparing the generations has always been a challenge in all fields, not just cricket.
Let’s try to use ratios rather than absolute numbers to solve this issue. Following a comparison of both players’ batting averages and strike rates with their respective overall means for the same time period, we move on to the next section.
2) Batting Average and Strike Rate
In this section, Virat Kohli and Sachin Tendulkar’s batting averages and strike rates are contrasted after being compared to their respective periods’ overall means.
Let’s use Sachin’s case, as an illustration, to better grasp this from 1994 to 2003. Every player who participated in this period had a mean batting average of around 17, and Sachin had a batting average of roughly 48.
Therefore, Sachin’s batting average ratio changes to 48/17 = 2.79. (approx.).
This method gives an approximate idea of how good the player was as compared to the other players during the same period.
This method can be effective in comparing the two generations of cricket. The following table shows the values of the Batting Average and Strike rate of Sachin and Kohli after taking the ratios with their corresponding means in their respective periods.
The above figure gives us a better idea of how good these players were in their respective periods.
It is clear that the ratio of batting average for Sachin is around 2.79 and that of Kohli is around 3.01 indicating that there is not much difference between these two batsmen.
A difference of 0.22 can be easily ignored since such a difference might easily arise due to the outliers.
What can be concluded from here is that both the batsmen are equally matched in terms of batting average.
Coming to the strike rate ratios, the SR ratio of Sachin (1.42) is slightly higher than that of Kohli (1.23), indicating that Sachin has been able to score runs at a bit faster rate than Kohli.
Still, the difference between them is not very large to come to the conclusion that Sachin is better than Kohli. The same logic goes for batting average, the difference between the two ratios is not that much bigger for us to conclude about the better batsman.
Also, they both have scored the most runs and faced the most number of deliveries compared to any other player in their respective periods, both being the best batsmen in their respective generations.
3) Half-centuries and Centuries
Comparing the number of half-centuries and centuries scored by these two batsmen is what most people judge who is best between Kohli and Sachin. So, here is our analysis for the same.
As per the comparisons, the ratios are compared rather than the absolute numbers.
The ratio of the number of centuries by either Kohli or Sachin and the average number of centuries scored by a player is taken for their respective time periods. The same goes for half-centuries.
A huge difference is observed in the average number of centuries scored by a player between the two periods with 0.68 centuries per player in 1994–2003 to 1.00 centuries per player in 2010–2019.
The following table shows the comparison of the ratio of both parameters for both players.
As observed in the table, the ratio for half centuries is 14.29 for Sachin and 14.17 for Kohli which is almost equal with Sachin having a little advantage, and very little to ignore easily.
This indicates that the two players stand in the same position in terms of the number of half-centuries scored.
Now, the ratio for the number of 100s is 52.94 for Sachin and 41 for Kohli. This indicates a bit larger gap between the values of Sachin and Kohli indicating that Sachin was able to score more centuries, compared to other players during his period, than Kohli.
If this was the only parameter for judgment, then Sachin is the clear winner of the comparison between the legends.
4) Percent Contribution
In this section, the percent contribution of both players to the team total is analyzed and compared. The team total calculated in this section does not include any extra run given in the match.
This number tells us how important these two players are/were for their team. The following table shows the percent contribution of both players.
It can be observed that the contribution of both the players in their team total is the same with the contribution being 21%, the highest in their respective teams.
This means that both players have been equally impactful to the team. This number also explains why TVs are still switched off after Kohli gets out, which was earlier the case with Sachin!
What do Legends say
1. Shane Warne
Former Australian legend and one of the greatest spinners of all time, Warne said that it was very hard to judge players who played in different eras. Calling someone better than Sachin, who played in the mid-90s when the pitches were much more favorable to the bowlers than it is today, was not right.
Even though Late Shane Warne had said that Sachin should not be compared to a player who was not from his generation, he expressed that he enjoyed watching Virat bat and that he would go down as one of the greatest ever, alongside Sir Viv Richards.
2. Sunil Gavaskar
While former Indian cricketer and current commentator Sunil Gavaskar has not openly said who he thinks is better between Sachin and Kohli, the little master had a word of advice for Virat after a poor series of displays in the England vs India test series in 2021. Sunny Ji urged Virat to quickly call Sachin by quoting: “He should give a quick call to Sachin Tendulkar and ask what should I do? ” said Sunil Gavaskar while commentating on the match.
So Who is Better: Sachin or Kohli?
If one has to compare the absolute numbers, then undoubtedly Kohli has performed much better than Sachin having played a lesser number of matches, still scoring runs at an average of around 60.
But since cricket (or any sport) is ever-evolving, it’s always unfair to compare generations.
Here in this Sachin vs Kohli comparison, ratios were used instead of absolute numbers.
The ratios for Batting Average and Strike Rate were compared and it was observed that the difference between the two was almost negligible indicating that they both stand at the same position in terms of batting average and strike rate.
Then the ratios for the number of 100s and 50s were compared which were also found almost equal for both the players with Sachin having a slightly higher ratio for the number of 100s.
This indicates that although the batting average ratio for Virat Kohli is a bit higher, Sachin has a better ability to score big 100s.
Had these differences been much larger, we could have gone in favor of one batsman, but these differences in either ratio are too small to go in favor of one batsman.
In the last part of the comparison, the contribution of both players to the team score was considered, which, following the previous analysis, was found exactly equal, meaning that both players had an equal impact on the team scores.
So, from all these comparisons, it can be concluded that both the players are equally matched in the respective periods considered for them for comparison.
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