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Stats Analysis

Kohli v Smith, and the art of hundreds as captain

Statistics to prove how two modern-day greats have dominated the game

S Rajesh
S Rajesh
There is little to choose between Smith's and Kohli's stats as captain in Tests, November 26, 2017

There is little to choose between Smith's and Kohli's stats as captain in Tests  •  ESPNcricinfo Ltd

Steven Smith made the Gabba Ashes Test his own with an outstanding unbeaten 141 in tough conditions, playing what should be the defining innings of the match. Meanwhile, in Nagpur, Virat Kohli continued his run-glut, admittedly in easier conditions and against a toothless bowling attack. The runs were made in vastly different circumstances, but they encapsulated the way both have led from the front.
The similarities are remarkable. Both started their captaincy stints in the same series - the India tour of Australia in 2014-15 - and scored hundreds in their first innings in charge. Kohli made three-figures in each of his first three innings, and Smith had three centuries in his first five. Since then, both have gone on a relentless run-fest.
After 27 Tests as captain, Smith has 13 hundreds and averages more than 72; Kohli has 12 centuries in 31 matches as captain, averaging 63.93. They have won three Man-of-the-Match awards as captain (click here for Smith's and here for Kohli's), though Smith will probably add another for his effort in Brisbane.
Among all captains with 500-plus runs - there are 137 players in this list - Smith and Kohli are in the top five, as is Kane Williamson.
Best Test averages as captain (Min 500 runs)
Player Mat Runs Ave 100s
 DG Bradman (AUS)  24  3147  101.51  14
 SPD Smith (AUS)  27  2971  72.46  13
 KC Sangakkara (SL)  15  1601  69.60  7
 V Kohli (INDIA)  31  2877  63.93  12
 KS Williamson (NZ)  13  1079  59.94  4
And over the last couple of years, they are clearly the most prolific batsmen, with averages more than 68.
Kohli and the art of scoring hundreds
Kohli's 213 in Nagpur is his fourth ton in Tests in 2017, and his 10th across formats this year. That makes him the most prolific captain, in terms of hundreds scored in a calendar year. He went past Ricky Ponting, who made nine in both 2005 and 2006, and Graeme Smith, who made nine in 2005.
Kohli's century here is his 12th as Test captain - five of them are doubles. That equals another record: Brian Lara is the only other captain to make five hundreds; Don Bradman, Michael Clarke and Smith have four each.
Kohli is already the top centurion among Indian captains. Sunil Gavaskar had 11 from 47 Tests, but Kohli has already gone past that in only his 31st Test at the helm. In ODIs, he is only one behind Sourav Ganguly's record of 11.
These numbers boil down to Kohli's amazing conversion rates. Of the 16 times he has gone past 50 as a captain, he has converted 12 into hundreds, which is easily the best among the 18 captains who scored 10 or more Test hundreds. Even Bradman couldn't achieve this rate: he scored 14 hundreds out of the 21 times he passed 50.

S Rajesh is stats editor of ESPNcricinfo. @rajeshstats