Smiles better: Kohli celebrates reaching the landmark of 5,000 ODI runs against West Indies
India batsman Virat Kohli recently joined West Indies legend Viv Richard in becoming the fastest man to reach 5,000 one-day international (ODI) runs.
However, how do the two vastly different men compare at the exact same stages of their limited-overs careers?
Well, that is what we are going to examine here by delving into both players’ stats at the points at which they achieved the feat. Kohli (5,005 runs) managed it against West Indies last week, while Richards (5,037 runs) reached it in 1987.
The interesting thing here is just how much older Viv was when reaching the landmark, although that is more a reflection of just how much more ODI cricket is played in the modern game now, compared to 25 years ago.
There isn't much difference between the two stars in this regard. However, as we noted previously, it took Viv a whole 12 years to reach 5,000 ODI runs, whereas Kohli reached it in just five.
This is the key stat, with both right-handed batsmen needing exactly 114 knocks to achieve the feat. So, in terms of comparing the two men, there is absolutely nothing to separate them.
Again, there are virtually identical records when it comes to both men’s PBs. Richards deserves more credit, though, as scores of that magnitude were far rarer in the late-'70s and '80s than they are now.
The man from St John’s in Antigua just edges out his counterpart from Delhi. However, observers get the very distinct impression that, come the end of Kohli’s limited-overs career, he will come out on top in this particular head to head with Viv, who averaged 47 when he retired in 1991.
Viv just takes this one, although it's really too small a difference to conclude anything other than these are two of the fastest-scoring and most intimidating batsmen that the 50-over game has ever seen.
OK, so this is the first real variance between the two—and this field really does emphasise just how on top of his game Kohli is at present, with 17 ODI tons to his name in just 120 matches.
Richards’ equivalent at the same point in his career may seem paltry, one needs to remember that the West Indian was playing at a time of lighter bats, bigger boundaries and much more fearsome fast bowling to contend with.
Again, the contrast looks stark—and it is. But Viv did like to give the opposition bowlers a chance, especially with his favourite whip-through leg shot.
Kohli, on the other hand, has really developed a newfound patience and maturity to his game in this form—at least in recent times—which may explain this particular statistical discrepancy.
This is a reflection of Kohli’s greater number of hundreds really, meaning that his opposite number would by design have more half-centuries to his name.
It's dead heat in this particular statistical battle, although again, a far higher percentage of Kohli’s half-centuries were made under pressure chasing a target than Richards’ were.
It's another field where the silky-smooth Indian No. 3 emerges on top. And it's a significant one too, with Kohli definitely appearing the more reliable and consistent of the two when faced with the demands of a second-innings run chase.
This is more a reflection of the form and abilities of the two players’ respective teams, with Richards playing on an all-conquering West Indies side that won the first two World Cups.
However, Kohli and Co., while still a fabulously successful outfit that was also crowned world champions two years ago, are not quite on the same level as the Calypso Kings were.
Very little separates the two men and their respective teams in this area, and as one would expect from two such successful outfits, both players and their teammates were obviously involved in far more successful run chases than efforts that ended in defeat.
Kohli: 2011 WC and 2013 CT
Richards: 1975 WC and 1979 WC
Viv just takes this one by virtue of being part of two back-to-back World Cup triumphs, while Kohli only has the one to his name—although that could still change by the time he hangs up his bat, of course.
While Kohli just has the more impressive stats when broken down, it must be remembered the vastly different eras that the two No. 3’s were playing in, especially with regard to the extra protection that the modern-day batsman is now afforded.
And so, while the Indian’s numbers may appear superior, Viv was just way ahead of his time in the way in which he played the 50-over game in the late-'70s and '80s, when batting was just so much harder than it is today.