Mohammad Yousuf also praised Kohli for his consistency, especially in scoring centuries for his team.
The debate surrounding the tag for “best batsman of the current generation” has been going on for a very long time. Cricketing experts have weighed in with their thoughts, and, at times, even struggled to pick one name from a group that comprises Steve Smith, Virat Kohli, Joe Root, Kane Williamson, David Warner, among others. Former Pakistani captain Mohammad Yousuf is the latest among cricketers who have shared their opinion in this regard. In an interview with sports magazine Sportstar, Yousuf said that Virat Kohli is the number one batsman across all formats at the moment. Yousuf picked Kohli from his list that included Rohit Sharma, Joe Root, Steve Smith, Kane Williamson, etc.
Yousuf called Kohli -“the best batsman across all the formats”. He added that the way Kohli bats irrespective of the innings and match situations and the way he handles the pressure at crucial junctures makes him a batsman with “unbelievable skills”.
Mohammad Yousuf also praised Kohli for his consistency, especially in scoring centuries for his team. On the Virat Kohli versus Babar Azam debate that has stirred a variety of emotions among cricket fans in the sub-continent, Yousuf said the comparison was an “immature” one. He said that Kohli is more “mature as a batsman” and also much more experienced than Azam as he has been playing international cricket since 2008. He also added that “Babar Azam, the batsman” has a long way to go before he can match Kohli’s achievements.
Mohammad Yousuf, however, did not discredit Babar Azam’s batting credentials, and said that early trends show signs that the newly-appointed ODI skipper of Pakistan is catching up with Kohli. Yousuf called both the batsmen ‘zabardast’ (excellent) in their domain, but hailed Kohli as the better among the two.
Virat Kohli has played 86 Test matches and scored 7,240 runs at an average excess of 50 — to be precise, 53.62, with 27 centuries and 22 half-centuries. On the other hand, Babar Azam has featured in only 26 Tests for Pakistan and scored 1,850 runs at an average of 45.12 with five hundreds and 13 fifties.
In ODIs, Kohli has racked up a mammoth 11,867 runs, at an impressive average of 59.33. On the other hand, Babar has amassed 3,857 runs at an average of 54.17. Babar has hit 11 hundreds and 15 fifties in his ODI career of 72 innings; while Virat has scored 43 tons along with 58 fifties from his 239 innings.
The stats clearly support Yousuf’s statement. Virat Kohli is not just more experienced than Babar Azam, but also has a significantly higher conversion rate from 50s to 100s in Tests. Out of 49 instances, when Kohli has got off to a start and scored a fifty, he has gone on to score centuries on 22 occasions, while Babar has been able to convert only 5 fifties into a hundred from 18 such chances. In ODIs, Kohli has 43 hundreds from 101 innings where he’s crossed the fifty run-mark, while Babar has 11 hundred from 26 ODI innings where he has gone beyond a half-century.
On the state of Pakistan cricket, Yousuf said that the young players who have come into the side to replace the old guard have huge shoes to fill, and they will take time to adapt. He lauded young pacers like Shaheen Shah Afridi and 17-year-old Naseem Shah for showing excellent skills at a young age. On Pakistan’s batting department, which generally has been the team’s Achilles heel, Yousuf said that batsmen like Babar, Haris Sohail, and Test captain Azhar Ali are improving gradually.
Mohammed Yousuf had a prolific career that spanned over 12 years. He played 90 Test matches for Pakistan scoring 7530 runs at an average 52.29 with 24 centuries and 33 half-centuries. He has an equally impressive record in ODIs as well. In his 273 ODI innings, he amassed 9,720 runs at an average of 41.71 with 15 centuries and 64 fifties.