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Stats Analysis

Who has top-scored more often in Tests - Kohli or Root?

Virat Kohli has top-scored for India in four out of six innings in the Test series so far, and that streak puts him among the all-time toppers in the list of batsmen who have top-scored most often

S Rajesh
S Rajesh
All innings mentioned in this piece are innings in which the batting team lost at least five wickets.
In the six innings that India have batted in the Test series in England so far, Virat Kohli has top-scored four times: in each innings at Edgbaston and at Trent Bridge. His second-innings century at Trent Bridge was the 29th time Kohli top-scored in Tests when India have lost at least five wickets. Kohli has been a part of 110 such innings for India so far, which means his top-scoring percentage is an impressive 26.4. Among the 152 batsmen who have batted at least 100 times when their team has lost five or more wickets, Kohli's percentage puts him in seventh place: only Andy Flower, Brian Lara, Wally Hammond, Ken Barrington, Joe Root and Sunil Gavaskar have done better.
The frequency of one batsman top-scoring is primarily a function of two parameters: the batsman's own batting pedigree, obviously, and the quality of the rest of the batsmen in the line-up. The two players who top this list, Flower and Lara, were outstanding batsmen in teams which were otherwise often short on batting quality. Flower had a fantastic Test average of 51.54, scoring 4794 runs in 63 Tests. The next highest aggregate in the matches he played was Grant Flower's 3336 (average 31.17), while only two other batsmen - Murray Goodwin and Dave Houghton - scored 1000-plus runs at 40-plus averages in the Tests that Andy Flower played. Similarly, only Shivnarine Chanderpaul and Carl Hooper scored 1000-plus runs at 40-plus averages in the Tests that Lara played.
Hammond and Barrington are the only others with a percentage or 27 or more, but in fifth and seventh places are two of the best batsmen going around today. Root has had a disappointing series against India so far, top-scoring only once in five innings, but overall in his career, he has top-scored for England 33 times out of the 123 innings when England have lost five or more wickets. The difference between him and the other batsmen in the line-up is reflected in this stat: in the 72 Tests that Root has played, he averages 51.27, while the next highest, with a 500-run cut-off, is Alastair Cook's 40.22.
Kohli's percentage of 26.4 puts him in seventh place, with Gavaskar still ahead of him by a whisker. In 188 innings, Gavaskar top-scored 50 times, which means in percentage terms, he is still 0.2 percentage points ahead of Kohli. Given the form Kohli is in in England, it is quite possible he will go past Gavaskar before the series is done, but then it is also worth remembering that Gavaskar sustained those numbers over an extended period of time. Kohli will need to maintain these levels to stay up there with Gavaskar and Sachin Tendulkar, who is in third place among Indian batsmen at 24%.
In all away Tests, Kohli is fourth in terms of top-score frequency for India with 25%, after Tendulkar (26.7%), Gavaskar (26.6), and Mohinder Amarnath (26.3), who was outstanding in several overseas series. However, in Tests outside Asia, Kohli's percentage leaps up to 29.6, marginally below Amarnath's 29.7, and ahead of Tendulkar and Gavaskar. That's a clear indication of his high level of excellence and India's huge dependence on him when they travel far.
More numbers from the top-score percentages
37.8 - The top-score percentage for Don Bradman, which is almost ten percentage points more than Andy Flower's. Bradman top-scored in 28 out of 74 innings in which Australia lost five or more wickets.
23.3 - The top-score percentage for Steven Smith, which puts him in 16th place in the all-time list. The fourth member of the modern fearsome foursome, Kane Williamson, is way lower in 41st place with a percentage of 18.9. In fact, four New Zealanders have a higher percentage than Williamson: Stephen Fleming (23.6), Martin Crowe (21.5), Ross Taylor (21.1) and John Wright (19.1).
16.6 - The top-score percentage for Rahul Dravid, which is only joint 11th among Indian batsmen (with a 50-innings cut-off), and 66th overall (100 innings cut-off). Outside Asia, Dravid's percentage jumps up to 23.7, which means the percentage of innings in which he top-scores in Asia drops to a measly 10.9%. The percentages are similar for Mohinder Amarnath: 29.7 outside Asia, 10.9 in Asia.
16.3 - The top-score percentage for Cook, which is marginally lower than that for Ian Botham (16.4). In fact, Botham top-scored for England more regularly than Ian Bell (15.8) did.
15.1 - The top-score percentage for Ricky Ponting, which puts him in 86th rank out of 152 batsmen. That is as good a stat as any to illustrate the strong batting line-up that Ponting was a part of.
21.9 - The top-score percentage for Younis Khan, the best for Pakistan. He is the only Pakistan batsman with a percentage of more than 20. He is followed by Azhar Ali (19.8), Javed Miandad (19.6), Mohammad Yousuf (19.6), and Inzamam-ul-Haq (19.4).
20.7 - The top-score percentage for AB de Villiers, the best for South Africa. He is followed by Daryll Cullinan (18.6) and Jacques Kallis (17.2).
1 - The number of times the following batsmen top-scored in a Test innings: Muttiah Muralitharan, Rangana Herath, Zaheer Khan, Steve Harmison, Craig McDermott and Nathan Lyon.
All stats queries for the tables done by Shiva Jayaraman
A few corrections were done to the piece on August 28, at 0830 GMT. The earlier version had mentioned that Kohli was ahead of Gavaskar, but this has now been changed.

S Rajesh is stats editor of ESPNcricinfo. @rajeshstats