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Virat Kohli: 30 before 30


Virat_Kohli_India_Cricket_ODI_centuriesKohli will turn 29 this November. To date, he has batted 186 times in ODIs, and notched up close to 9,000 runs already at a blistering pace – with a healthy average (close to 56) and a very impressive strike rate (close to 92). His ODI performance as captain and batsman is a veritable bouquet with flowers of different hues, if one may say so. Of course, he would surpass one batsman after another as he moves past the five-figure aggregate and further onward.

How about his centuries? A Lankan friend of mine commented that he would very easily topple Sachin Tendulkar’s record in this respect. I agree. In toto. With a three-figure score every six outings on average, he must get to 50 and beyond quite quickly – much earlier than Tendulkar did in his ODI career.

That is for the future, as we go down memory lane to Kohli’s first ODI century at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata on Christmas Eve of 2011. Against the Lankans. His 13th ODI outing to the batting crease. About 3 years after a poor debut in 2008 against the Lankans, in which he scored just 12 runs. It was thereby very apt that he scored his first 100 against the same team he encountered on his debut.

And as I write this piece, his latest innings - a match-winning century – was also against the Lankans. The number 13 may be an unlucky one for some, but Kohli got his first hundred in his 13th stint at the batting crease. At a strike rate of a little under 94, he scored 107 of the 317 runs India scored, but lost out on the Man of the Match Award to fellow-Delhiite Gautam Gambhir, who scored an even bigger hundred in a match-winning cause.

Virat Kohli_strike rates in the 30 knocks

On three other occasions – among the 30 ODI innings in which Kohli scored centuries – when India won the match, the MoM award went to someone other than Kohli. In his 43rd outing (100 not out, out of a team total of 370), it was Sehwag. In his 169th (122 out of 356), it was that gem of a knock by Kedar Jadhav which merited the MoM award, while in his latest innings at Colombo (110 out of 239 runs), it was the bowling exploits of Bhuvneshwar Kumar which caught the attention of the jury members.


Of the 30 ODIs in which Kohli got centuries, India won 26. His 6th, 18th, 24th and 25th centuries were in vain, the matches being lost to England, New Zealand and Australia (the last two) respectively. Nine of the 30 hundreds were unbeaten knocks, which gives Kohli an average of over 170 in these 30 innings taken separately.


As far as his contribution to the team total in these 30 innings are concerned, the overall percentage is a little over 40%. There were 5 occasions on which he accounted for over half of the pie, and 12 occasions in which it was over 40%. There were five occasions on which he scored so-called back-to-back hundreds – 118 and 105 in his 31st and 32nd innings, 133 and 108 in his 79th and 80th, 183 and 106 immediately in his 82nd and 83rd, 117 and 106 in his 161st and 162nd, and lately, south of the Indian border 131 and 110 in his 185th and 186th. The longest wait was between his 5th and 6th centuries – 18 innings, followed closely by another one between his 13th and 14th – 17 innings.

Virat Kohli_share of team's total in 30 century-scoring innings

The cities in which he starred with his triple-figure contributions were Kolkata, Dhaka (4), Vizag (2), Guwahati, Cardiff, Delhi, Hobart, Hambantota, Colombo (3), Port of Spain Trinidad, Harare, Jaipur, Nagpur, Napier, Fatullah, Dharamsala, Ranchi, Adelaide, Chennai, Melbourne, Canberra, Chandigarh, Pune and Jamaica. The capital cities of our eastern and southern cricket-playing neighbours accounted for 7 of the 30! Within India, Vizag turned out to be a favourite.

India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, New Zealand, Australia, England, West Indies and Zimbabwe figure in the list above…South Africa and Pakistan will have to be added on sometime in the future…

One interesting statistic is that in Kohli’s 138th match, he scored 139 not out against the Lankans, at a strike rate of 110, accounting for 48% of his team’s total in a winning cause. Angelo Mathews batting for Sri Lanka in the first innings also scored 139 not out!

Kohli’s 11th hundred in his 82nd match is thus far his highest ODI score – 183 against the Bangladeshis at Dhaka (strike rate of 123, and accounting for a massive 55% of his team’s score; the highest share thus far, while scoring ODI centuries).

A double hundred is keenly awaited. Sehwag, Tendulkar and Rohit Sharma (twice) have got there earlier…3 of the five who have achieved this feat are Indians, the other two being Chris Gayle and Martin Guptill. Kohli, it is your turn now.

And very soon, we also expect you to surpass 90 not out, which is your highest on date in T20s…scored last year in January on our Republic Day against the Aussies. Both these feats will, doubtless, be accomplished in the months to come…sooner rather than later.


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G Venkatesh (born 1972) is a senior lecturer in Energy and Environment, at Karlstad University in S...

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