Cricket might not be the most popular sport in the world but it reverberates in the hearts and minds of billions of Indians who follow the game passionately. It has often been said that cricket is a religion in India. The players are treated like demigods as they give the people of India a billion reasons to smile with their performances on the field. However, one player has always stood head and shoulders above the rest – Sachin Tendulkar, is regarded as the god of cricket in India.
With a career spanning nearly 24 years, Tendulkar became synonymous with the game in India. He has been arguably the greatest cricketer that the world has ever seen and was profoundly lauded for his consistency over his playing career. It was fitting that the people of India cited him as ‘The God of Cricket'. However, after his retirement fans contemplate who's the new god of cricket. In this article, we are going to discuss potential options of who can now be regarded as the new god of the cricket world.
Sachin scored nearly 35000 International runs and played over 450 ODIs and 200 Tests in his entire playing career. While it is infeasible for players to produce such stats, a lot of cricketers have had a similar impact on the game of cricket. There are many cricketers whom cricket fans call the new god of cricket like MS Dhoni, AB De Villiers, Virat Kohli, and the list goes on…
Who is the God of Cricket now?
If we glance over the records, consistency, and the impact of any player after Sachin, Virat Kohli looks closest to the title of the new god of cricket in India. Kohli, who himself considers Tendulkar as someone who he looked up to during his growing years, could potentially break a couple of Sachin's records before he calls time from the international sport. As a batsman, Virat has achieved some unbelievable highs in his career. However, his failure to win an ICC trophy as captain so far happens to be the only desirous feat for him as a cricketer.
Bursting onto the screen
Virat Kohli came into the scene with a lot of potentials, and many expected him to go on to hit new heights in the game. The potential for Kohli to become the new God of cricket was evident in the U19 World Cup 2008. Even when there were a lot of talented names like Rohit Sharma, Kohli was able to attract the media and fans like no other. His performances on the pitch were also significantly superior. Immediately after the U19 World Cup, Kohli featured in the ODI internationals for the first time in August 2008. Even though he struggled on a few occasions as a youngster, Kohli was quickly enhancing his reputation as the new God of cricket in flashes of brilliance.
How is Virat Kohli above the rest of the players in his era?
Virat Kohli is one such player who stands out for his meteoric rise and match-winning abilities that have made him a fan favourite. Kohli has scored 70 International centuries in 13 years and is a modern-day great in international cricket.
His fitness has also played a huge role in his success across the three formats. He is the only player in the world to average above 50 in all three formats. The Indian captain is currently ranked second in the ICC Men's ODI rankings among batters with over 12000 runs to his name. In this period, he has scored 43 ODI hundreds with an average nearing 60. Kohli is only 7 ODI hundreds short of overhauling Sachin's record for the most centuries in one-day internationals.
Even in Test cricket, Kohli has proven his class with runs in nearly all conditions. He might be going through a lean patch currently, but his records speak volumes of what he has achieved in Test cricket. Kohli has scored 7765 Test runs so far in 96 Tests with an average of 51. He's also scored the most double hundreds (7) as captain in Test cricket as captain since 2016.
Even in the T20s, Kohli has aced the format to emerge as one of the best players across the globe. He's the leading run-scorer in T20Is with an average of over 50. Looking at his overall tally, Virat is arguably the best player in the world.
Where do the icon and the new God of cricket stack up?
In order to understand the two players better, it is important to look at the stats. In a remarkable test career that spanned between 1989 and 2013, Tendulkar was able to hit 15,921 runs in 200 matches and 329 innings. His average of 53.78 in test matches is among the best around. Kohli’s first test match was not until 2011 and he has since then amassed 8074 runs. The average of 49.53 is well short of Tendulkar’s but the reigning superstar has had the captaincy burden for a significant chunk of his 102 test matches and 173 innings.
In terms of the ODI performances, the gap between Tendulkar and Kohli is not so huge. This is one of the defining factors in Kohli being branded as the new God of cricket. In a career that spanned between 1989 and 2012, Tendulkar was able to hit 18,426 runs at an average of 44.83. This extraordinary feat was achieved over 463 matches. Meanwhile, Kohli still has several years left in the game and he has already been able to hit 12,300+ runs from just 262 matches. At an average of 57.68, it is clear that Kohli has made the ODIs his stomping ground. Now with the captaincy burden away from his shoulders, Kohli is expected to perform even better when it comes to the ODIs as he tries to chase Tendulkar’s enormous record.
Even though Sachin was able to create new records when it came to Test and ODI matches, he was on the decline when the T20 format was making it big. Sachin has just 10 T20I runs to his name from just one game. Meanwhile, Kohli has been one of the top players in this format of the game with just over 4000 runs from 115 games.
Who is the greater ODI batsman, Sachin Tendulkar or Virat Kohli?
Sachin's ability to consistently score runs for such a long period of time was a trait that puts him way above the rest. However, considering the ODI exploits in isolation, Kohli's performances seem to go hand-hand with the master's. Virat might even have a better record in the run-chases. In the run chases, he averages 96 with 22 hundred to his name. On the other hand, Tendulkar had a batting average of 42 and scored 17 tons in run chases. If we compare both players in ICC tournaments, then the Master Blaster is winning this race single-handedly.
Where can Virat Kohli finish in his career?
It is understandably true that Kohli is going through a lean phase for runs as an Indian player. His last international century came against Bangladesh in India's first-ever Pink Ball Test in November 2019. Ever since then, the Indian skipper has failed to cross the three-figure for the ‘Men in Blue'. However, he still continues to be a useful contributor but has failed to live up to his own standards in the recent past. Considering his dip in form, Kohli at best could overhaul Tendulkar's tally of 49 ODI tons. With still a few years of cricket left in him, he might find mention alongside some of the legendary names to have ever graced the game.
Apart from his extraordinary skills, one of the reasons Tendulkar set astronomical records was his longevity in the game. Even with plenty of injury problems preventing him from playing regularly, Tendulkar was able to play until 39 in the ODI games and he was able to stretch his career to 40 in Test matches.
There is no reason to see why Kohli, who still has six years of ODI cricket left in him at just 34, can go on to surpass the records. Even at a modest involvement of 20 matches every year, Kohli will easily be adding another 100 matches to his ODI days. At an average of just over 57 per match, Kohli is well on track to get close to the 18,426 runs hit by Tendulkar. In test matches, though, it is a whole new story and Tendulkar’s 15,000 runs are likely to remain the benchmark for decades to come. For all the impressive achievements in cricket, Kohli is yet to provide a sizeable return in test matches and this might decline with more importance being given to other formats of the game – including IPL.
Kohli has already been able to hit a landmark by matching the records set by Ricky Ponting, who is also regarded as one of the greatest batsmen in the world. However, it is a whole new level to attain if the 34-year-old wants to become the new God of Cricket.
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