ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 / Features

Chasing glory

Virat Kohli is already third in terms of most centuries when batting second in ODIs, but his rate of scoring them is unmatched in the format's history

S Rajesh

October 18, 2013

Comments: 137 | Text size: A | A

Virat Kohli scored a match-winning 68, Zimbabwe v India, 3rd ODI, Harare, July 28, 2013
Of Kohli's ten hundreds in run-chases, three were made when he came in to bat at 0 for 1, with India chasing more than 250 © AFP
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Series/Tournaments: Australia tour of India
Teams: India

Another big ODI run-chase, and another stunning match-winning innings from Virat Kohli. He has been around for only five years in one-day internationals, but Kohli's has set such an incredible pace with his landmarks that he is already joint third in terms of hundreds when batting second. Only Sachin Tendulkar, with 17, and Chris Gayle, with 11, have more centuries in chases than Kohli's ten.

Traditionally, scoring hundreds in the first innings of ODIs has been easier than making them when there's a target facing the team. There's less pressure when batting first, and the lack of a target to overhaul probably gives them more time to settle in and play freely. In the history of one-day internationals, there've been 810 centuries scored in 31,823 innings by batsmen batting first - an average of 39 innings per hundred - and 455 in 27,738 innings in chases (average 61 innings per hundred).

For Kohli, though, the reverse logic seems to apply: the presence of a target to achieve probably allows him to focus better, and pace his innings according to the target. In 63 innings when batting second, Kohli averages 62.77 at a strike rate of 89.23, with ten centuries, an average of 6.3 innings per hundred; when batting first, he averages 37.72 at a strike rate of 84.26, with six hundreds in 47 innings. So far in his career, Kohli has scored 65% of his ODI runs in chases; the corresponding percentage for Sachin Tendulkar is 47%, for MS Dhoni it's 44%, for Viv Richards 45% and for Brian Lara 52%. Only 17 of Tendulkar's 49 ODI hundreds came when batting second; for Kohli the ratio is ten out of 16.

Kohli's latest astonishing feat in a chase - an unbeaten 100 off 52 balls against Australia in Jaipur - makes him the 42nd batsman to score 3000 or more ODI runs when batting second, but among the other 41, only two have scored more centuries. Those two, plus the two others who've scored ten centuries - Saeed Anwar and Sanath Jayasuriya - are all predominantly openers, while Kohli has opened only twice in run-chases.

Kohli's conversion rate, though, is the best among all batsmen who've scored at least five second-innings hundreds. He is well clear of Marcus Trescothick's average of 9.33 innings per century. Tillakaratne Dilshan has a rate of 9.89, though when he's opened the batting he has scored nine in 55 innings.

Least innings per century in ODI chases (Qual: 5 hundreds in chases)
Batsman Innings Runs Average Strike rate 100s/ 50s Inngs per 100
Virat Kohli 63 3076 62.77 89.23 10/ 17 6.30
Marcus Trescothick 56 2054 41.08 86.26 6/ 10 9.33
Tillakaratne Dilshan 89 3018 45.04 88.92 9/ 10 9.89
Gordon Greenidge 73 2996 49.11 64.83 7/ 16 10.43
Saeed Anwar 105 3849 42.76 81.03 10/ 20 10.50
Shane Watson 53 2332 55.52 89.79 5/ 13 10.60
Chris Gayle 132 4745 39.87 88.04 11/ 28 12.00
Gautam Gambhir 78 3093 45.48 86.15 6/ 21 13.00
Graeme Smith 93 3814 45.40 84.79 7/ 27 13.29
Sachin Tendulkar 232 8720 42.33 88.44 17/ 52 13.65

Kohli's first century in a chase came in Kolkata against Sri Lanka in December 2009. Coming in to bat at 23 for 2, he played a supporting role to Gautam Gambhir, who scored an unbeaten 150 off 137 as India chased down 316 with seven wickets and 11 balls to spare. That was Kohli's first century in ODIs, in his 13th innings. Since then, he's been consistently churning out hundreds when batting second, often in high chases after India have lost an early wicket or two.

The next century came just four innings later, in Mirpur against Bangladesh, and this time he played the lead role - as he would do in several other chases - with no other Indian batsman scoring more than 41 in a chase of 248. By the time he scored his maiden century batting first, he'd already made three in chases.

The table below lists each of his ten second-innings centuries. All of them have resulted in wins, and he has been unbeaten and carried the team through in half those matches. Often, he has come in to bat very early in the innings - three times with an opener being dismissed in the first over without a run on the board - and Kohli has used those situations as opportunities to bat long periods and make the winning contributions. In seven of the ten innings, he finished with a strike rate of more than a run a ball; the lowest scoring rate in any of those innings was 93.85, in his first hundred. Eight of those ten hundreds won him Man-of-the-Match awards.

Virat Kohli's ten ODI centuries in run-chases
Score Strike rate Target Entry total Exit total Match Win margin (wkts, balls)*
107 (114) 93.85 316 23/2 (3.4) 247/3 (39.2) v SL, Kolkata, 2009 7, 11
102* (95) 107.36 248 64/1 (11.5) - v Bangladesh, Mirpur, 2010 6, 42
118 (121) 97.52 290 0/1 (0.2) 256/4 (43.2) v Australia, Visakhapatnam, 2010 5, 7
112* (98) 114.28 238 29/2 (6.5) - v England, Delhi, 2011 8, 80
117 (123) 95.12 270 29/2 (6.4) 247/4 (44.6) v WI, Visakhapatnam, 2011 5, 11
133* (86) 154.65 321 86/2 (9.2) - v Sri Lanka, Hobart, 2012 7, 80
183 (148) 123.64 330 0/1 (0.2) 318/4 (47.1) v Pakistan, Mirpur, 2012 6, 13
128* (119) 107.56 252 0/1 (0.5) - v Sri Lanka, Colombo, 2012 6, 46
115 (108) 106.48 230 26/1 (6.3) 216/3 (41.3) v Zimbabwe, Harare, 2013 6, 31
100* (52) 192.30 360 176/1 (26.1) - v Australia, Jaipur, 2013 9, 39
* By wickets, and balls to spare

All those hundreds and runs make him the highest run-getter, by far, in chases in ODIs since the beginning of 2009. The only batsman with a similar rate of scoring hundreds - in fact, a slightly better rate - is Dilshan, who has nine hundreds in 53 innings.

Most runs in chases in ODIs since the beginning of 2009
Batsman Innings Runs Average Strike rate 100s/ 50s
Virat Kohli 61 3008 64.00 90.22 10/ 17
Tillakaratne Dilshan 53 2232 48.52 93.35 9/ 7
Kumar Sangakkara 51 2112 48.00 83.18 3/ 14
Gautam Gambhir 44 1955 50.12 89.18 4/ 15
Shane Watson 36 1759 56.74 95.39 4/ 10
Tamim Iqbal 42 1579 38.51 86.61 1/ 14
Mahela Jayawardene 48 1547 36.83 83.62 2/ 11
Eoin Morgan 43 1547 55.25 89.88 3/ 9
Suresh Raina 54 1524 41.18 98.13 0/ 10
Upul Tharanga 46 1457 36.42 79.53 3/ 9

Ten of Kohli's 16 centuries have also come at the No. 3 position, a slot at which he has batted 71 times, 43 times in chases (six hundreds), and 28 in the first innings. The rate of 7.1 innings per century is also the best among all No. 3s who've scored at least five hundreds. On average, No. 3s have scored a century every 25 innings in all ODIs, which means Kohli's conversion rate is about three-and-a-half times better than the overall average. Since the beginning of 2010, which is when Kohli played 70 of his 71 innings at No. 3, the overall rate for hundreds by No. 3s has dropped to one every 20 innings, which means Kohli is still about three times better than the average.

The only other player with a rate of less than eight is Pakistan's Zaheer Abbas. He played in the early days of ODI cricket and yet achieved numbers which look impressive even in today's age: an average of 45.65 at No. 3, and a strike rate of 85.74. (Overall in ODIs he averaged 47.62 at a strike rate of 84.80.) He also scored six hundreds from 47 innings at No. 3, an average of 7.83 innings per hundred.

What's also interesting is how high VVS Laxman is on this list: in 59 innings at No. 3, Laxman scored six hundreds, four of them against Australia. His rate of 9.83 innings per hundred is a touch higher than Viv Richards' 10.20.

Kohli also scored 18 fifties apart from his ten hundreds, which means 28 times out of 71 he made at least a 50 from No. 3. Those are outstanding stats by any measure. With Yuvraj Singh, Suresh Raina and Dhoni to back him up, it's hardly a surprise that India have risen to the top of the ODI rankings, despite a toothless bowling attack.

Least innings per century at No.3 in ODIs (Qual: 5 hundreds)
Batsman Innings Runs Average Strike rate 100s/ 50s Inngs per 100
Virat Kohli 71 3079 50.47 87.44 10/ 18 7.10
Zaheer Abbas 47 2009 45.65 85.74 6/ 9 7.83
Brian Lara 106 4447 45.84 85.98 12/ 26 8.83
Mohammad Yousuf 45 2042 53.73 79.05 5/ 13 9.00
VVS Laxman 59 1966 35.74 74.52 6/ 9 9.83
Viv Richards 51 2418 57.57 86.88 5/ 15 10.20
Ricky Ponting 330 12,662 42.48 80.73 29/ 74 11.38
Graeme Hick 58 2182 44.53 75.26 5/ 16 11.60

S Rajesh is stats editor of ESPNcricinfo. Follow him on Twitter

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Comments: 137 
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Posted by Dummy4 on (October 24, 2013, 16:14 GMT)

"kholi's avg in aus -53.28, in SA-57.6, in Eng- 46.25" That pretty much says it all. This guy is class

Posted by yasir on (October 24, 2013, 12:27 GMT)

i think kohli is great player because he is fearless player whether he plays in india or abroad

Posted by Naresh on (October 23, 2013, 14:38 GMT)

Few fans(Sachin's) are unable to accept the the young kid Kohli's consistent performance. May be the bowlers like Mcgrath, Warne, Wasim, Waqar, Donald, Walsh, Ambrose...... etc are not playing.. (if we think the other way around) but still Sachin has played along with Kohli for few years, but where is the game changing performance.

As per the seniority, these not so great bowlers should have been punished.. just like Kohli did. Now Steyn is one of great bowlers, so look at the averages of Kohli avg in aus -53.28, in SA-57.6, in Eng- 46.25, in Ind- 48.88, in SL-35.56, in WI-34.7, in bangladesh -122.0 & in Zim- 60.83.(Thanks @drpramit).

I am not saying that Sachin is not great.. But I am saying Kohli's performance is not at all lower than Sachin in the absence of great bowlers....

Posted by Chaitanya on (October 23, 2013, 12:34 GMT)

Kohli will crack all records set by Sachin...........

Posted by Dummy4 on (October 23, 2013, 8:43 GMT)

@Vivekaks: I do agree comparison should only be employed for the players of same era, and comparing over the different eras can only be individual's choice not the ultimate judgement which majority of the people will agree on. Virat Kohli might not have faced the greatest of the bowling attack when you compare it with the greats of old eras but one cannot ignore his run streak and domination from last couple of years. He did dominate bowlers like Ajmal, Malinga etc which others had found difficult to play. The kind of passion and hunger he posses to score runs is unmatched and top-class. I too want to see him facing some top-class bowling line-up overseas. That will surely give him a platform to prove himself. but, one should not forget, in his short test career, he has already shown a glimpse of his class by scoring a ton in Aus in immense pressure and controversies. Let the best cricket to shine and blossom, doesn't matter from which country and from which player it comes from.

Posted by pramit on (October 22, 2013, 11:17 GMT)

kholi's avg in aus -53.28, in SA-57.6, in Eng- 46.25, in Ind- 48.88, in SL-35.56, in WI-34.7, in bangladesh -122.0 & in Zim- 60.83. Its not that Kohli is better only in subcontinent pitches, he has scored everywhere. Yes its too early to compare him with Tendulkar, Lara or Ponting, but 16 hundreds in 116 ODI with an avg of 51.1 seems to be a sign a consistency & he will definitely get more runs & more hundreds in the next 5-6 years (at least). As far as hundreds in overseas condition are concerned they will come gradually. Give the guy some time, he will definitely break most of the odi records.

Posted by Vinod on (October 21, 2013, 9:01 GMT)

Absolutely a wonderful batsman to watch and one of the best for quite sometime now. Hope he will carry on with the focus.....without opening his mouth too often :-)

Posted by Daison on (October 20, 2013, 5:31 GMT)

I still remember calling my brother overseas and telling him about Kohli after watching his first innings for India - it was not a huge score he made but one could already see the "X-factor" the way he played. The two glances to fine leg off the middle of his bat with ease was what stood out - he seemed to have a lot of time to play those glances of the middle of his bat.

Posted by Dummy4 on (October 19, 2013, 19:51 GMT)

when i say overseas it means out of Asia.

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S Rajesh Stats editor Every week the Numbers Game takes a look at the story behind the stats, with an original slant on facts and figures. The column is edited by S Rajesh, ESPNcricinfo's stats editor in Bangalore. He did an MBA in marketing, and then worked for a year in advertising, before deciding to chuck it in favour of a job which would combine the pleasures of watching cricket and writing about it. The intense office cricket matches were an added bonus.

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