Virat Kohli-Steve Smith: The torchbearers of their generation

first_imgOne scores a ton, the other thumps a double hundred. One throws a passionate fist pump after hitting a match-changing hundred at India’s Mecca of Cricket, the other thumps his chest in front of a passionate crowd at Australia’s Home of Cricket after a match-saving ton.This is the story of two of cricket’s modern day greats, captains and perhaps biggest rivals — Virat Kohli and Steve Smith.While Kohli finally rose over his bad record at the Eden Gardens and then followed it up with his fifth double hundred in the span of seven series, Smith’s unbeaten 141 gave Australia a slender first-innings lead at the Gabba. The Aussies kicked on from there and completely dismantled England in their second innings and won the first Ashes Test by 10 wickets while India hammered Sri Lanka by an innings and 239 runs to win the second Test of the three-match series at the VCA Stadium.Both the team rode on knocks from their captains to win the match and that has become synonymous with these two in the past few years. So much so, that they have become bigger than their teams and people feed off them when it comes to promoting a series between the two countries. It is more like Kohli versus Smith than India versus Australia and that is what makes this rivalry even more special — much like India-West Indies in the late 1990s and early 2000s because of two greats — Sachin Tendulkar and Brian Lara, who have perhaps shared the greatest rivalries in terms of success and greatness in the gentleman’s game.advertisement18th Test century for @imVkohli followed by the declaration. Sri Lanka need 231 runs to win the 1st Test #INDvSL BCCI (@BCCI) November 20, 2017Awesome. #Ashes #ohwhatafeeling @Toyota_Aus (@CricketAus) November 25, 2017Tendulkar and Lara were good friends but that cannot while Kohli and Smith are not really the best of friends. But both men score runs, make big hundreds and have massive fan followings, hold records and they lead the team from the front.Even in terms of technique, the two give you a glimpse of the Mumbaikar and the Trinidadian, two of the greatest batsmen in the era gone by. While Kohli strikes those classical cover drives on the up, Smith’s unorthodox technique much like Lara, pays huge dividends for him.In terms of records, Smith overtook Tendulkar to become the third quickest to score 21 Test tons while Kohli, on Sunday, equalled Lara in terms of most double hundreds in Test cricket as captain — both have five.Reuters PhotoBut comparisons are not fair, people often say and that was echoed by Kohli himself in a chat show, when asked about Tendulkar.”You can only compare those who are worthy of comparison. You are comparing me to someone because of whom I started watching cricket. I stand no chance in terms of skill level. He’s the most complete batsman ever. Then how can you even compare,”  Kohli said on Breakfast with Champions.”I’ve always said it’s not fair on him. Because of what he has given to us, he doesn’t deserve to be compared to us. This generation…no chance,” he added.But, when you are doing what greats have done before you (but quicker), fans and observers are bound to compare the greatest players across eras. That is the thing about numbers, records and stats.And the same can be said about Smith. Former Australia captain Ricky Ponting, who himself is one of the greatest ever to have played the game, certainly thinks so.”These guys (Tendulkar and Jacques Kallis) have scored 15,000 and 13,000 runs, but they played in 150-plus Tests, Tendulkar 200 Tests, to achieve what they achieved. Smith is nearly halfway there in just over 50 Test matches,” Ponting said to ABC Grandstand on Sunday.Ponting’s stats game was right and he certainly had a valid point. Kohli has played 62 Tests and scored 4,975 runs at an average of 51.82. He has hit 19 centuries, out of which five of them have been double tons. Whereas, Smith has smashed 5,511 runs from 57 games at an average of 61.23. He has scored 21 hundreds and one double century.BCCI PhotoHowever, in the shorter format of the game, Kohli is miles ahead of his Australian counterpart. From 257 (202 ODIs and 55 T20Is) games, he has hammered 10,98 runs. Out of which 9030 have come in ODIs and 1956 in T20Is. He has also hi 32 tons in the 50-over format, second only to Tendulkar. Smith on the other hand has played only 133 (103 ODIs and 30 T20Is) games for Australia. He has hit 3,760 runs in limited-overs cricket. Out of that 3,329 have come in ODIs and 431 in T20Is. The Australian has eight centuries to his name in ODIs.advertisementTendulkar has 34,357 runs from 664 international games. Out of which 200 were Tests, 463 ODIs and one T20Is. He has 100 international centuries to his name is perhaps believed to be the greatest ever player to run on the 22 yards.Lara on the other hand finished with 22,358 runs from 430 internationals. He has played 131 Tests and 299 ODIs for West Indies. He has 53 centuries.Kohli, 29 and Smith, 28, have many years ahead of them and will break many more records in the years to come and much like the great rivalries of the past (Sunil Gavaskar-Allan Border, Tendulkar-Lara), these two are headlining the current crop and will continue to do so in the recent future.last_img read more