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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
October 18, 2013
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.
|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.
|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|
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.
|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.
|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 TwitterFeeds: S Rajesh
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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