West Indies tri-series 2013 July 8, 2013

Virat Kohli and the art of ODI batting

Shiva Jayaraman
A look at how Virat Kohli paces his innings in ODIs, and how it has helped him in his success as a batsman in ODIs
22

Virat Kohli's century in India's third league match, against West Indies, in the tri-nation series was the second-fastest of his 14 ODI hundreds - it came off 81 balls. His second fifty took all of 26 balls, which is the lowest number of balls he has taken to go from 50 to 100. His innings was the best example of how he has mastered the art of pacing an ODI innings. Stats suggest that he has been one of the most successful ODI batsmen since his debut in August 2008. Kohli has aggregated 4345 ODI runs, the third most by any batsman in the last five years in ODIs. His career strike rate of 86.74 - a healthy one for the amount of runs he has scored - shows that he has managed to straddle the two aspects of ODI batting - scoring runs and scoring them fast - comfortably.

Over the last few years, the scoring rates for a couple of No.3 batsmen have been questioned, but Kohli has had no such problems. Among those who have batted in at least 20 innings at No.3 in the last five years, Kohli's strike rate is the highest.

A look at how Kohli's strike rates move over ten-over blocks of an innings, reveals a fair bit on how Kohli has a template for building and finishing his knocks. His innings have generally been characterised by slow, watchful starts, busy middle periods and explosive ends. This is corroborated by the progression of his batting strike rate through his innings. He is at his slowest at the start of an innings - scoring at a rate of 63.8 in the first ten overs of the innings. He is usually content in playing himself in during these periods - 71% of the balls he faces are dots. He hits a boundary only once in 12.4 balls during this period. In the next ten overs, his dot-ball percentage drops to 52%, but his boundary rate drops as well, possibly because of the lack of fielding restrictions.

Virat Kohli's batting stats - over-wise
Overs Inns 0s 1s 4s & 6s Runs Avg Cum avg SR dot-ball %age Balls/boundary  
1 to 10 70 778 193 89 704 10.1 10.1 63.8 71% 12.4  
11 to 20 75 838 577 113 1226 16.3 26.4 76.7 52% 14.2  
21 to 30 52 534 580 77 1092 21.0 47.4 86.5 42% 16.4  
31 to 40 35 303 344 111 952 27.2 74.6 117.7 38% 7.3  
41 to 50 18 75 93 52 371 20.6 95.2 155.2 31% 4.6  

Kohli's batting in the next ten overs (21-30) gives us an insight into how careful he is in building an innings; it's also an aspect that a batsman like Rohit Sharma would do well to learn from. Rohit tends to let his guard down after getting starts and throws his wicket away, but this doesn't happen with Kohli. This period is when he has taken minimum risks, hitting boundaries only once in 16.4 balls, the least through his innings, but still manages to score at 5.2 runs an over - thanks to the high percentage of singles he takes during this period. Nearly 53% of the balls he plays during these overs are taken for singles. No wonder then, Kohli has been dismissed on only 14 occasions between scores of 30 and 49 (14% of his total innings), the least when compared with other top No.3 batsmen. The next ten overs are when he breaks free. His boundaries now come at a much greater rate: one off every 7.3 balls. The last ten overs of his innings are when he is most destructive - boundaries off every 4.6 balls and only 31% dot balls.

Given the caution Kohli takes at the start of his innings it is obvious that his strike rate between overs 11 and 30, of 81 - which is quite healthy in itself - does not rank at the very top among batsmen. However, Kohli still manages to be among the top-ten batsmen in this regard. Considering that he has scored almost 500 runs more than the second batsman in the list, his scoring rate in these overs is certainly not a big disadvantage. Moreover, India have had bad starts (one down for less than 20) in 43 of the 93 matches since 2010, when Kohli has started batting at No.3 or at No.4, demanding a mature, risk-free start from the batsmen at the crease.

Top batsmen (strike rate) in overs 11 to 30 (min 1000 runs), last five years
Batsman Inns Runs Avg SR Dis
Shane Watson 52 1491 39.23 90.8 38
AB de Villiers 64 1819 69.96 87.7 26
Hashim Amla 42 1525 76.25 85.7 20
Gautam Gambhir 49 1575 60.57 85.5 26
Tillakaratne Dilshan 55 1706 46.10 83.2 37
Yuvraj Singh 56 1245 40.16 83.0 31
Virat Kohli 78 2318 56.63 81.0 41
Mohammad Hafeez 39 1045 37.32 81.0 28
Jacques Kallis 39 1196 62.94 77.8 19
Ricky Ponting 61 1576 41.47 76.7 38

The last 20 overs of the innings are when Kohli makes amends for his comparatively slow starts. Among batsmen with at least 1000 runs in these overs, Kohli's strike rate of 126.3 is second only to Shahid Afridi's. Compare this to the strike rate of 98.8 at which MS Dhoni - who is arguably the best finisher going around in this format - scores in these overs. Kohli definitely knows how and when to switch gears.

Top five batsmen (strike rate) in overs 31-50 (min 1000 runs)
Batsman Inns Runs Avg SR Dis
Shahid Afridi 61 1222 21.82 135.5 56
Virat Kohli 40 1323 49.00 126.3 27
AB de Villiers 43 1581 65.87 119.7 24
Suresh Raina 73 1929 38.58 116.8 50
Kieron Pollard 46 1073 26.31 115.0 41

The most important stat of all is Kohli's contribution in India wins. In the last five years, no other batsman has scored more in teams' wins than Kohli. Of Kohli's 14 ODI centuries, 13 have come in wins - the most hundreds any batsman has scored in wins in the last five years. His average in these games is among the top five in the last five years. Kohli has eight centuries in 39 successful chases he has been involved in. This is already the third-highest by any batsman, and he has taken fewer innings, by far, by any batsman to achieve this.

Top batsmen (Average) in wins (min 40 wins)
Batsman Inns NO Runs HS Avg SR 100 50
AB de Villiers 44 14 2528 134 84.26 105.9 9 17
Hashim Amla 44 4 2969 150 74.22 93.9 11 17
MS Dhoni 56 21 2397 124 68.48 91.3 2 17
Misbah-ul-Haq 41 17 1633 93* 68.04 72.5 0 15
Virat Kohli 63 14 3263 183 66.59 90.8 13 14

What these numbers indicate are that Kohli juggles between the roles of a No.3 batsman and a finisher quite efficiently - accumulating big runs that count, and at a rate that helps his team win matches.

Shiva Jayaraman is a sub-editor (stats) at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • on July 9, 2013, 6:43 GMT

    Class act...he knows how to build an inning and definitely knows how to finish it.With all the new stars emerging n the team this guy will always be the back bone of indian batting line up in for several coming years.

  • on July 9, 2013, 18:17 GMT

    He is sure to end up as one of India's two best ODI batsman along with MSD. MSD if he keeps up his form for at least two more years could end up being the greatest ODI cricketer ever, by virtue of him being the keeper as well.

  • on July 9, 2013, 11:54 GMT

    Agreed virat has made rapid strides as india's premier odi batsman, but i am sick of every body pointing rohit 2 learn. What every body is missing a point that this transformation of pacing d innings in virat came after he made his test debut. unfortunately for rohit, he has not made his test debut[though he himself is partly 2 blame]. but as time will stand testimony rohit will stand as india's premier batsman in 2 years time[no offence towards virat]. long distance horses take time 2 gain momentum, & once they get it they leave everybody behind.

  • procleanaction on July 9, 2013, 11:40 GMT

    Have been following Virat's career from the time he was captaining the Under 19s and really believed that here is someone to take note of. The great thing is he has remained consistent, runs singles (Indians have been notorious in not doing so) scores almost all his runs through cricketing shots and in front of the wicket. Keep going young man!

  • on July 9, 2013, 11:38 GMT

    if india is out of tournament its not kohli's fault !! there are 11 members in the indian team not just virat kohli !!wht can he do if other guys are too bad ?? the emergence of dhawan and jadeja has brought some freshness to the indian odi side !!a player can win a match or contribute to the victories !! entering finals is not just an effort of one player !! many things go in to tht like run rate,d/l methods etc he aint god to influence all tht !!he does wht he does best tht is winning matches for india !!if u say tht way then u can say the same abt all players !! only 1 team wins a tournament not all teams right ?? jayawardene scored a splendid knock in world cup final yet sl lost !! dhoni made a fighting knock in ipl finals yet csk lost !! sachin made his 100 hundreds yet india got out of asia cup wht u say abt all these ?? so just judge a player on match winning abilities not on luck and blahh blahh !!give credit where its due...

  • bmani27 on July 9, 2013, 11:21 GMT

    Wow, great stat, no doubt he is a class act in ODIs. Rohit/Rahane probly needs to learn from him.

  • fR0DDY on July 9, 2013, 10:49 GMT

    He has highest average while chasing for batsmen who have scored more than 1000 runs while chasing.

    http://stats.espncricinfo.com/ci/engine/stats/index.html?batting_fielding_first=2;class=2;filter=advanced;orderby=batting_average;qualmin1=1000;qualval1=runs;template=results;type=batting

  • on July 9, 2013, 10:30 GMT

    Just Amazing stats over there. Hoping that Luck is with him so that people dont start telling that if he scores a century India will be out of the tournament.

    ALL THE BEST VIRAT AND TEAM INDIA

  • hcool on July 9, 2013, 9:52 GMT

    probably virat and de villiers are two of the world's best one day players since last 5 years....................

  • on July 9, 2013, 9:49 GMT

    He is the only player who can challenge the sir Sachin Tendulkar 's record.

  • on July 9, 2013, 6:43 GMT

    Class act...he knows how to build an inning and definitely knows how to finish it.With all the new stars emerging n the team this guy will always be the back bone of indian batting line up in for several coming years.

  • on July 9, 2013, 18:17 GMT

    He is sure to end up as one of India's two best ODI batsman along with MSD. MSD if he keeps up his form for at least two more years could end up being the greatest ODI cricketer ever, by virtue of him being the keeper as well.

  • on July 9, 2013, 11:54 GMT

    Agreed virat has made rapid strides as india's premier odi batsman, but i am sick of every body pointing rohit 2 learn. What every body is missing a point that this transformation of pacing d innings in virat came after he made his test debut. unfortunately for rohit, he has not made his test debut[though he himself is partly 2 blame]. but as time will stand testimony rohit will stand as india's premier batsman in 2 years time[no offence towards virat]. long distance horses take time 2 gain momentum, & once they get it they leave everybody behind.

  • procleanaction on July 9, 2013, 11:40 GMT

    Have been following Virat's career from the time he was captaining the Under 19s and really believed that here is someone to take note of. The great thing is he has remained consistent, runs singles (Indians have been notorious in not doing so) scores almost all his runs through cricketing shots and in front of the wicket. Keep going young man!

  • on July 9, 2013, 11:38 GMT

    if india is out of tournament its not kohli's fault !! there are 11 members in the indian team not just virat kohli !!wht can he do if other guys are too bad ?? the emergence of dhawan and jadeja has brought some freshness to the indian odi side !!a player can win a match or contribute to the victories !! entering finals is not just an effort of one player !! many things go in to tht like run rate,d/l methods etc he aint god to influence all tht !!he does wht he does best tht is winning matches for india !!if u say tht way then u can say the same abt all players !! only 1 team wins a tournament not all teams right ?? jayawardene scored a splendid knock in world cup final yet sl lost !! dhoni made a fighting knock in ipl finals yet csk lost !! sachin made his 100 hundreds yet india got out of asia cup wht u say abt all these ?? so just judge a player on match winning abilities not on luck and blahh blahh !!give credit where its due...

  • bmani27 on July 9, 2013, 11:21 GMT

    Wow, great stat, no doubt he is a class act in ODIs. Rohit/Rahane probly needs to learn from him.

  • fR0DDY on July 9, 2013, 10:49 GMT

    He has highest average while chasing for batsmen who have scored more than 1000 runs while chasing.

    http://stats.espncricinfo.com/ci/engine/stats/index.html?batting_fielding_first=2;class=2;filter=advanced;orderby=batting_average;qualmin1=1000;qualval1=runs;template=results;type=batting

  • on July 9, 2013, 10:30 GMT

    Just Amazing stats over there. Hoping that Luck is with him so that people dont start telling that if he scores a century India will be out of the tournament.

    ALL THE BEST VIRAT AND TEAM INDIA

  • hcool on July 9, 2013, 9:52 GMT

    probably virat and de villiers are two of the world's best one day players since last 5 years....................

  • on July 9, 2013, 9:49 GMT

    He is the only player who can challenge the sir Sachin Tendulkar 's record.

  • TM on July 9, 2013, 9:32 GMT

    Hes goingtoscore atleast 40 odi centuries and 20 test centuriess all at an average of over 50

  • on July 9, 2013, 9:23 GMT

    So far So good, can't argue with what Virat has achieved so far, but as always expectation is very high from him. I would be more satisfied if he continues this efforts in Test cricket and put up good show in coming tours from South-Africa, Newzeland and England. Fingers crossed..!!!

  • aruntheselector on July 9, 2013, 9:13 GMT

    Hope he can achieve the same sucess in Tests. He has performed well till now, but he needs to take his average above 50. With Dravid gone and Sachin in his twilight, it is Pujara and Kohli who need to fill their shoes. The potential to succeed in tests is definitely there in Kohli as he has a good technique and flair.

  • on July 9, 2013, 8:15 GMT

    Great piece of Work there... Great Insights!!! Now its time to put Insights into Action if anybody wants to be a Modern ODI cricketer...

  • maddy20 on July 9, 2013, 8:08 GMT

    @harishk8006 No its not a joke. Sehwag has been pathetic in the last 2-3 years and I don't remember when was the last time he has hit a ton in ODIs?

  • Naresh28 on July 9, 2013, 7:55 GMT

    In today's game the openers role is very important. India has done this well. I feel Rayudu should come in for Vijay, this will give more stability with Dhoni missing. Dhawan/Sharma should be watchful in the first 10 overs. A strong opening platform will ensure a good total. Karthik has been in poor form and this is a worry for India.

  • Gappistan on July 9, 2013, 7:51 GMT

    @Naresh, I am not challenging his ability its just something with the luck, he is undoubtedly the best batsman and finisher currently. Just to add some more instances where india or his team is out of the tourney---> Asia Cup 2012, curtailed IPL match against CSK. Hope you get the pun of it.

  • NareshPodi on July 9, 2013, 7:18 GMT

    How many times that our INDIA came out of tournament when he hit a century? he played brilliant innings to chase 300+ runs in just less than 40 overs. Have you ever seen this kind of innings any time? He is absolutely the No.1 master blaster whether someone accepts it or not.

    One more thing about Kohli is, He never play for the self records but plays for the country and team.

  • on July 9, 2013, 7:18 GMT

    he will get his 15th century tommorow against sri lanka, and india will get into the final.

  • on July 9, 2013, 6:31 GMT

    surly he will be the next legend of cricketing world....

  • Gappistan on July 9, 2013, 6:20 GMT

    One more fact about Kohli's batting: Whenever he hits century, India wins the match but gets out of the tournament.

  • harishk8006 on July 9, 2013, 6:10 GMT

    Shiva Jayaraman!!! you must be kidding me, you say top batsmen in the last 5 years and NO VIRENDER SEHWAG?????? this must be a joke

  • harishk8006 on July 9, 2013, 6:10 GMT

    Shiva Jayaraman!!! you must be kidding me, you say top batsmen in the last 5 years and NO VIRENDER SEHWAG?????? this must be a joke

  • Gappistan on July 9, 2013, 6:20 GMT

    One more fact about Kohli's batting: Whenever he hits century, India wins the match but gets out of the tournament.

  • on July 9, 2013, 6:31 GMT

    surly he will be the next legend of cricketing world....

  • on July 9, 2013, 7:18 GMT

    he will get his 15th century tommorow against sri lanka, and india will get into the final.

  • NareshPodi on July 9, 2013, 7:18 GMT

    How many times that our INDIA came out of tournament when he hit a century? he played brilliant innings to chase 300+ runs in just less than 40 overs. Have you ever seen this kind of innings any time? He is absolutely the No.1 master blaster whether someone accepts it or not.

    One more thing about Kohli is, He never play for the self records but plays for the country and team.

  • Gappistan on July 9, 2013, 7:51 GMT

    @Naresh, I am not challenging his ability its just something with the luck, he is undoubtedly the best batsman and finisher currently. Just to add some more instances where india or his team is out of the tourney---> Asia Cup 2012, curtailed IPL match against CSK. Hope you get the pun of it.

  • Naresh28 on July 9, 2013, 7:55 GMT

    In today's game the openers role is very important. India has done this well. I feel Rayudu should come in for Vijay, this will give more stability with Dhoni missing. Dhawan/Sharma should be watchful in the first 10 overs. A strong opening platform will ensure a good total. Karthik has been in poor form and this is a worry for India.

  • maddy20 on July 9, 2013, 8:08 GMT

    @harishk8006 No its not a joke. Sehwag has been pathetic in the last 2-3 years and I don't remember when was the last time he has hit a ton in ODIs?

  • on July 9, 2013, 8:15 GMT

    Great piece of Work there... Great Insights!!! Now its time to put Insights into Action if anybody wants to be a Modern ODI cricketer...

  • aruntheselector on July 9, 2013, 9:13 GMT

    Hope he can achieve the same sucess in Tests. He has performed well till now, but he needs to take his average above 50. With Dravid gone and Sachin in his twilight, it is Pujara and Kohli who need to fill their shoes. The potential to succeed in tests is definitely there in Kohli as he has a good technique and flair.