Steven Smith and Virat Kohli, the copious run-getters in the modern game, have always been on each other’s faces, be it on the field or off the field, be it with bat or with mike in hand. They had shared quite a few nasty moments and there was a time when Kohli said there would be no friendship with Aussies. In the article, we will analyze Virat Kohli vs Steve Smith in the best possible manner.
Though over the last 3-4 years, things have cooled down by a fair margin. They might not be the best of friends but they respect each other and many had felt that respect when they had a nice chat before Border Gavaskar Trophy in 2020-21.
They have the same passion for the game, and there has been a fascinating emulation between the both.
Let’s see what stats are telling about them?
Overall stats : Virat Kohli vs Steve Smith
Kohli has played a double number of T-20Is as Smith. Smith’s average has always been around the thirty mark in the shorter format, while Kohli has been regarded as one of the best finishers in white-ball cricket. Though Smith can score quickly by piercing the gaps, mysteriously he has never been off the blokes in the shortest format.
Similar to T-20Is, Smith has played only one match more than half of Kohli’s ODI appearances. The average of 43.34 in ODIs is great, but if you look at Kohli’s ODI average, Smith seems to be underperforming.
Kohli has been in a completely different league. He is already 6th all-time highest run-getter in ODIs and has an average of 59.07 which is head and shoulders above everyone on that list. The second-best average is Dhoni’s 50.58 as far as 10000 run elite club members are concerned.
Kohli’s conversion rate is 40.95 and Smith has 30.55.
Though Smith has played half the white-ball matches than Kohli, thinking Smith would come closer to ODIs and the T-20I record of Kohli would be near to impossible.
With the chasing ability, conversion rate, ability to play situations, and sheer domination, Kohli is the best in ODIs and T-20Is.
Ahhh! Here we go!
This is the format where Smith has been really into his game and at its best.
Let’s just move our attention to the Best format of the game; The Test.
A Test cricket fan does get excited to see the numbers and the rivalry.
The overall numbers in Tests suggest that Smith has a slight upper hand in terms of an average. The consistency with which Smith plays is absolutely unfathomable.
Though Kohli hasn’t had a bad average, still there has been some occasion when consistency hadn’t been there for Kohli.
You can see, Smith has tall structures more frequently than Kohli.
Performances at home and in away: Virat Kohli vs Steve Smith
The performance at home and away for both of them isn’t helping us to separate them. Kohli has a large dip in away average. Don’t directly jump on to the verdict, the average in away conditions of 43.43 is still a number anyone would want. Since the 2013 England Tour, he hasn’t had any poor series.
Talking about Smith, there isn’t much disparity between home and away from average which is the sign of being a great batsman.
Now we will explore their stats in selected away countries.
For Kohli, the selected countries for analysis are Australia, South Africa, New Zealand, and England.
|In||Australia||New Zealand||South Africa||England|
For Smith, the selected countries are India, New Zealand, South Africa, and England
|In||India||New Zealand||South Africa||England||Overall|
Now the picture has become clearer. Smith has outplayed Kohli in selected away countries. The only nation in which Kohli has better numbers than Smith is South Africa.
Swinging conditions are unfamiliar to both of them. So the numbers in England and New Zealand can help you to move towards a conclusion. Smith has been at its best when it comes to English conditions despite the seam and prodigious swing. While Kohli had a miserable 2013 tour, he made a terrific comeback in the 2018 tour. It seemed as if Kohli had got rid of his weakness for the ball outside off stump but somehow the same line has again become a point of worry for Kohli in the ongoing 2021 tour.
Smith had an excellent tour of India in 2016. His runs were highlighted by the fact that no one from his team could even come closer to his scores. Smith’s century in Pune on a rank turner has an entirely different fan base.
Bowlers have tried different strategies against Smith to take his wicket, but Smith is one of the very rare players who hasn’t had any sort of weakness. I bet many bowlers would have been at least once in a situation when he would have felt like “Is there any way to get him out?”
While Kohli has been vulnerable against the 4th-5th stump line. In a few series, a weakness against the short ball had popped up from nowhere.
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The Daddy ones
Kohli had faced a lot of criticism because of his inability to convert hundreds into daddy hundreds. But after 2015, he has scored 18 hundred, 10 of them are 150+. Out of those 10, he has managed to convert into 200 on 7 occasions. It means all the career double centuries of Kohli have come after 2015 when he was at its peak.
Smith, on the other hand, has 20 hundred after 2015, 8 of them went past the 150 mark. Out of those 8, he converted 3 into double tons.
The improvement in terms of daddy hundreds is remarkable for Kohli.
Verdict: Virat Kohli vs Steve Smith
The more you explore the stats, the more you dive deep into them, you only lead yourself to more and more ambiguity.
So considering their overall Test numbers, numbers in selected countries, consistency, ability to adapt, Smith is the better of two and probably the best Test batsman of this generation.
Both are the modern greats and most importantly the ambassadors of Test cricket.
Let’s enjoy their rivalry, their quest to become the best, and let them decide who the best in the Tests is.
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