When non-cricket lovers ask the ardent fan why on earth they would want to watch a seemingly boring game that meanders for five long days, one only needs to look at how this first Test match between Australia and India has unfolded.
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Virat Kohli’s appetite for international centuries is asserting himself amongst the greatest batsmen cricket has ever seen.
At 30 years old the Indian captain is placed fourth on the all-time international century list with 62 (38 ODI, 24 test), trailing only Kumar Sangakkara (63) and Ricky Ponting (71) to join stablemate Sachin Tendulkar in the top two.
In contrast to the surrounding players in the top four of international centuries, Kohli has had a career with an average of eight fewer years.
With an international average of 57, Sir Donald Bradman is the only player to have a higher batting average within the all-time top 50 century-makers in international cricket.
Virat’s one-day international record is overwhelming, with 38 centuries in 208 innings, meaning he averages a century in ODI cricket once every 5.47 innings.
After 200 ODIs Kohli had amassed 31 centuries in comparison to countryman Sachin Tendulkar’s 18.
Unlike many modern batsmen, Virat has the ability to compile big innings away from home. After 200 ODIs he had scored 8888 runs, of which 5200 were away from India and 18 were centuries.
In Virat’s 197th ODI innings he scored his 34th century, an achievement that took Tendulkar 298 innings.
India’s devotion to one-day cricket plays in favour of the current Indian captain, as on average they play 23 ODIs a year, providing their beloved leader with vast opportunity to score centuries.
If Kohli maintains his current form of scoring a century every 5.47 innings in ODIs over the next two years, he will amass another nine centuries, excluding the chance at Test level.
Sachin’s only edge over Kohli at the current stage of his career is Kohli’s record in Test cricket.
However, Kohli’s record is still remarkable in the longer format, with 24 centuries and 19 50s, meaning he has a 79 per cent chance of making a century after reaching 50.
By the fourth innings of a Test match the pitch’s condition is beyond repair and fatigue is setting in for all players, therefore considered the most difficult time to be at the crease.
Yet in the final innings of a Test match Virat still averages above 50 compared to Sachin’s 37.
In the recent losing Test tour of the UK, in which the ball dominated the bat, Kohli’s individual performance in difficult conditions stood out.
In the five-Test series, in which 400 was scored by a team only once, Kohli accumulated 593 runs at an average of 59.30, 244 more runs to the next best batsman, Jos Butler, who averaged 38.78. It’s form that will bolster Kohli’s confidence for the 2019 ODI World Cup series in the UK.
Approaching the Australian and New Zealand summer, Virat is in devastating form, averaging an unheard of 136 in one-day cricket in 2018 and ten centuries over both formats.
The recent Border-Gavaskar series in India in 2017 saw Virat have his worst series at the international level, averaging only nine for that series, so Kohli will be eager to add to his rapidly increasing list of centuries and amend his most recent form against Australia.
If Virat’s current form continues through the approaching tours of Australia and New Zealand, he will have the perfect opportunity to surpass Ricky Ponting’s 71 centuries before he turns 31, leaving only Sachin in his sights.