Since we are comparing the impact these two heavyweights have had on Team India's performances, we also have to look at the difference in the rate at which they score half-centuries and tons.
Gautam Gambhir fuels Rohit Sharma vs Virat Kohli debate: Former India opener Gautam Gambhir has again stirred the debate between the two shining stars of Indian cricket. This time though, Gambhir’s views were not as controversial and scathing as his earlier comment on a tweet from ESPN Cricinfo that carried the picture of the iconic six hit by former Team India captain MS Dhoni during the final of the ICC World Cup 2011.
Now, the former opener has compared the credentials of two of the most prolific Indian batsmen on the scale of impact they have on white-ball cricket. Gambhir says that white-ball cricket is all about impact and in that sense, he believes Rohit Sharma has an edge over Virat Kohli. However, he also acknowledges Kohli’s bigger appetite for runs in international cricket.
Gambhir supported his argument by pointing at Rohit’s fantastic run over the past 4-5 years. Gambhir’s assessment is fair on Rohit’s part, but Virat Kohli has been amassing runs and tons all across the globe long before Rohit made the opener’s slot his own. While there’s no debating the pedigree of both these modern-day greats, in this case one can rely on their statistics for the sake of comparison.
As a benchmark, we picked the stats of the performances of these two prolific batsmen from 2013 onwards — when Rohit turned his career around after MS Dhoni asked him to open the Indian batting in limited overs cricket.
Since the 2013 ICC Champions Trophy, when Rohit was first made a full-time opener, he has turned it around for both himself and the Indian side against the new ball. From then onwards, Rohit Sharma has amassed 7,050 runs at an average of 59.74, while Indian captain Virat Kohli has stacked up 7,813 runs in 144 innings at an even better average of 66.21 runs.
Since we are comparing the impact these two heavyweights have had on Team India’s performances, we also have to look at the difference in the rate at which they score half-centuries and tons. Virat Kohli has gone past the score of 50 on 66 occasions, compared to 57 by the ‘Hitman.’ Virat Kohli has scored 30 tons and 36 half-centuries, but Rohit has not fared too badly in comparison to his captain either, and has scored 27 centuries and 30 half-centuries. Similar to their overall batting average and runs aggregated in the last six years, both of them possess similar records in terms of these milestones as well.
Gambhir’s argument however rings true when we look at how effortlessly Rohit has managed to clear the ropes. He has bludgeoned bowlers for 220 sixes, more than twice the number of sixes hit by Kohli over the same period of time — 98. However, Kohli trumps Rohit when it comes to the number of boundaries hit by these two men. Kohli has hit 734 fours, in comparison to Rohit’s 668 fours. Numbers show that there’s a large difference in the number of sixes hit by the two, but not too big a gulf between them in terms of the number of fours they’ve hit.
In ICC ODI tournaments
Rohit Sharma has accumulated 1459 runs in 27 matches he played in the ICC ODI tournaments at a phenomenal average of 60.79 and a strike rate of 91.07. On the other hand, Virat Kohli has scored a 100 runs more than Rohit — 1559 runs at an average of 55.67 — however, he has played 12 more matches than Rohit. Last year, in the ICC World Cup 2019, Rohit Sharma scored five centuries, setting a record for the highest number of tons scored by a batsman in any of the world cups. Also, his hundreds came against strong bowling line ups such as South Africa, England, and Pakistan.
Kohli- The chase master
Virat Kohli, after MS Dhoni, has been credited for changing the attitude of the Indian cricket team during run-chases. Stats support this as well. In the period between 2008-20 Virat has scored 5,388 runs at a Bradman-esque average of 97.76 in 89 matches when India has chased targets successfully. On the other hand, Rohit in 84 matches, has scored 3,676 runs at an average of 63.37.