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Opinion

Steve Smith vs Virat Kohli: Cricket's biggest rivalry

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Roar Rookie
19th August, 2020
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Cricket has always been filled with debates about two specialists in a department.

Earlier it was Sachin Tendulkar and Brian Lara in batting, then it became Sachin and Steve Waugh, and after Steve Waugh’s retirement, it became Sachin and Ricky Ponting.

This legacy of batting rivalry has now carried on to Steve Smith and Virat Kohli.

Some kind of buzz rises whenever these two stellar batters play against each other. Be it India vs Australia matches or the IPL clashes, these stupendous batsmen get the rivalry going.

What is more fascinating about the two is their consistency. It’s been more than five years, but the competition between them is still fresh and getting inflated day by day.

So let’s get into the comparison between Virat and Smith by breaking into all possible factors with which we could compare the two.

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Technical comparison

Footwork
Virat’s shots are entirely dependent on his weight transfer through his staunch footwork. But Steve uses his feet for the eerie shuffles he makes to get himself close to the line of the ball.

Virat makes the best out of footwork.

Bat swing
Smith doesn’t need to be fond of his footwork because of the unreal bat swing he possesses, which is controlled even though it looks violent at times.

Kohli’s swing comes under the formula of his weight transfer. Moreover, it won’t find the extended version like that of Smith’s.

Thus Smith’s bat swing is more flexible and productive.

Wrist work and head position
Both make their wrists flexible to get into the gap they want and their steady head position aids them to be on top of the ball while connecting.

Even though they have different styles, they set themselves apart from others with their strong head positioning and wrist work.

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Approach
Smith’s shuffling sets him much readier and his comfortability in receiving the ball could be done only by him. But still, Virat’s approach is dominant. He always likes to be on top of the bowler.

Range of shots
Virat is so precise. The cover drive, straight drive, flick shot, and pull shot are his anytime-ready shots. Apart from that, some rare execution of square drives, leg glance, and cheeky dab to the third man region comes in when demanded, especially in the shorter format.

Speaking of lofted drives, Virat is extremely strong through the downtown region. His improvised lofted version of his cover drives, straight drives and flicks make him a deadly customer at death overs and in T20s.

Name any shot from the textbook and the Australian is a perfect executor of it, but in his own style. The fascinating thing about Smith is how he works into the onerous gaps he wishes to go through, however his intention of going towards the gaps makes him invent many unorthodox shots.

Smith has got the ground shots, while Virat has the upper hand in the lofted shots.

Virat Kohli.

Virat Kohli (Photo by Alex Davidson/Getty Images)

Statistical comparison

Test
Even though Kohli has a century more (27) than Smith, the Aussie’s average (62.84) wins the battle for sheer consistency.

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On looking at the half-centuries, Smith has 12 home fifties and 17 away, while Virat was only able to bring in ten and 12.

From another point of view, the Australian’s conversion of fifties into hundreds is worrying.

Another factor in comparing is their number of 200s – neither have found a way to the whopping 300-mark – where Virat stands tall with seven while Smith has three.

ODI
In the 50-over format, Kohli is unbelievable and Smith has no way to catch him.

Virat has made a stunning 43 centuries (24 away and 19 at home) with an outstanding average of 59.34.

Smith has only nine centuries(six at home and three away), averaging 42.47.

Obviously, it makes Virat top in ODIs.

T20s
Virat is way ahead in T20s as well, with 24 half-centuries averaging 50.80, while Smith has only four, averaging 29.61.

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Smith has nothing much to boast upon his white-ball cricket except the fact he was in a World Cup-winning team. Therefore, both the white-ball cricket formats are outrightly dominated by the Indian skipper.

Test cricket is the only format in which Smith dominates, but Virat is a great competitor there too. Furthermore, Virat’s consistency in all three formats is astonishing.

Scoring runs in Tests is never easy. It needs temperament, technique and a strong character.

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Comparing this pair will go on and we will only find answers when the two retire. Until then, Sachin Tendulkar’s has the final say:

“Let’s not get into comparisons and let us enjoy what both those individuals are doing. They are entertaining the entire cricketing world and it’s a joy for us to watch.”