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HomeCricBlogSachin Tendulkar vs Virat Kohli - Who is India's Greatest in ODIs?

Sachin Tendulkar vs Virat Kohli – Who is India’s Greatest in ODIs?



Last Updated on 6 years by Charbel Coorey

Sachin Tendulkar vs Virat Kohli - Who is India's Greatest in ODIs? Cricket Opinion Cricket Blog CricBlog

Donald Trump thinks he’s the most powerful thing in the world, but he obviously hasn’t come across the wrists of Sachin Tendulkar and Virat Kohli.

In the amazing tied ODI between India and West Indies, Virat Kohli surpassed the great Sachin Tendulkar to become the quickest ever to 10,000 ODI runs.

And he did it with 54 innings to spare. Ridiculous.

What this has done is further intensify the debate between two of India’s greatest ever ODI batsmen. This piece does not aim to bring either of these two legends down, but from the perspective of an outsider, it is an opportunity to put a discussion forward as to who deserves to be considered India’s Greatest in ODIs.

It is a huge title. Who deserves it? Do we have to wait till Virat Kohli finishes his career to decide?

Below is my view, and as always, feel free to leave a comment!

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It was an absolute pleasure growing up watching the great Sachin Tendulkar. A player with an amazing hunger for runs across nearly two and a half decades, the Little Master was ahead of his time in the ODI format. His relative Strike Rate for his first 10,000 ODI runs (Tendulkar’s strike rate compared to other batsmen across his 266 matches) was 1.21, indicating that the Master Blaster was well ahead of the pack in a very different era of ODI cricket. Along with the likes of Ricky Ponting, Tendulkar was simply superb.

Sachin Tendulkar fans will also argue the quality of bowling that he faced was of a different class. Tendulkar came up against some of the best limited overs bowlers the world has ever seen – the likes of Shane Warne, Glenn McGrath, Waqar Younis, Wasim Akram, Brett Lee, Allan Donald and Muttiah Muralitharan – just to name a few.

In discussing who is the greatest, it is important to put the recency of Kohli’s astounding career aside for a moment. Tendulkar played in an era where there were no two new balls, slightly different pitches in the 1990s and early 2000s, and still dominated. For good measure, his 10,000th ODI run came during his better-than-a-run-a-ball 139 against an Australian attack in 2001 that included Glenn McGrath, Shane Warne and Damien Fleming.

But, to claim Virat Kohli’s achievements are not as impressive because of a different era of ODI cricket is both unfair and misleading. Twitter guru @CrickPotato1 has compared the similarities in the bowling performances of top ten nations during Sachin’s era, as well as Virat Kohli’s.

The averages are similar, with strike rates lower in Virat Kohli’s time, with the economy rate understandably rising. So, the argument that bowlers have been rubbish during Kohli’s career is unwarranted. Virat Kohli has come up against some fine bowlers throughout his career – Dale Steyn, Mitchell Starc, Mitchell Johnson, Lasith Malinga, Kagiso Rabada, Imran Tahir and the like are far from ordinary.

So, put simply, if things are so easy now, why isn’t anyone matching Virat Kohli at the moment? Why hasn’t anyone slammed 37 ODI centuries in 205 innings, at a remarkable rate of one every 5.54 innings?

Another argument out there is that Virat Kohli has fetched many of his runs at home. But, his record in South Africa, England, New Zealand and Australia (SENA) is actually far ahead of Sachin Tendulkar, and was highlighted by his huge tally of 558 runs in six ODIs in South Africa earlier this year. In 67 innings in SENA, Kohli has amassed 3,124 runs at 60.07, a record which puts the home argument to bed.

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Also, how can one forget Virat Kohli’s prowess in chases? One argument against Tendulkar, which personal opinion suggests ‘harsh’, is that he couldn’t win as many games for India as he should have. Virat Kohli, on the other hand, has come out to bat 116 times in chases, scored 6,032 runs at a ridiculous average of 68.54, with 28 not-outs in chases.

Again, if it’s easy these days, why aren’t more players doing it?

For Australia to be successful against India this summer, Virat Kohli is the man that they have to dislodge. However, the is the biggest example of “easier said than done” in 2018, as this is a man that went from 9,000 to 10,000 ODI runs in the space of 11 innings. 11. Nine of those 11 were played in South Africa and England.

There is simply no doubt that both these two players are outstanding, and it will be fascinating to see Kohli’s ODI record when he finishes up. His ability to make ODI batting look incredibly easy in fascinating to watch, turning perfectly good deliveries into run scoring opportunities, highlighted by his immense career strike rate of 92.85.


Personally, it is a very difficult decision, given both players excelled in different eras. After 205 innings each, though, I am leaning very slightly towards Virat Kohli, but I am closer to the fence than definitely saying Virat.

Why? Because Sachin Tendulkar’s ability to score against accurate, world class bowling was superb. He was in a league of his own, and helped in revolutionising ODI cricket, becoming the first ever player to hit a double century.

But, Kohli, given the amount of cricket he plays, plunders runs at will. Seeing where Kohli ends up will be fascinating. Can he maintain his prowess? Where will he finish his career relative to Tendulkar in terms of average and relative strike rates? The way he is going now, asking anyone to beat the records he is sitting will be one tough ask.

Sachin Tendulkar’s record of 49 ODI centuries – watch out.

Thanks for reading!

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Charbel Coorey
Charbel Coorey
Charbel is the owner & founder of, based in Sydney, Australia. He started the website to fulfill his love for the game of cricket. Charbel has also been featured on other publications including OP India, Times of India, and The Roar, among others. For any story tips or questions, you can contact Charbel at

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