On Friday, Virat Kohli became the 12th Indian cricketer to play 100 Tests as the first match between India and Sri Lanka at Mohali gets underway. He has joined the elite list of cricketers such as Sunil Gavaskar, Dilip Vengsarkar, Kapil Dev, Sachin Tendulkar, Anil Kumble, Rahul Dravid, Sourav Ganguly, VVS Laxman, Virender Sehwag, Harbhajan Singh and Ishant Sharma who have played 100 Tests for India.
“I honestly never thought I would play 100 Test matches. It has been a long journey. We played a lot of cricket over the course of playing those 100 Test matches,” Kohli said on the eve of his 100th Test.
“God has been kind. I have worked really hard for my fitness. It’s a big moment for me, for my family, and for my coach. All of them are very happy and very proud of this achievement,” he stated.
He also said that he always enjoyed making big runs even at a junior cricket level. “I had scored at least 7-8 double hundreds in age-group cricket before I made my first-class debut. I have always enjoyed batting for long hours and winning matches for my team,” he added.
So, how does he stack up against other Indians greats who are a part of the 100-Test pantheon on various parameters?
So far, Kohli has scored 7,962 runs in 99 Tests, with 27 hundreds and 28 fifties, at an average of 50.39. At a similar stage in their career, after 99 Tests, Sachin Tendulkar (8,351 runs @ 57.99), Sunil Gavaskar (8,394 @ 52.46), Virender Sehwag (8,448 @ 50.89) and Rahul Dravid (8,492 @ 58.16) had scored more runs than Kohli among Indian cricketers. Sourav Ganguly, VVS Laxman and Dilip Vengsarkar are lower than Kohli in the pecking order.
It is evident that among all of them, Dravid emerges as the one with most runs and best average after 99 Tests. In fact, Dravid average (58.16) is the best by any batsman in the world after 99 Tests.
However, the picture is slightly different if we look at most hundreds. After 99 Tests, both Gavaskar and Tendulkar had snapped up 30 tons each. Kohli has scored 27 Test tons yet, and Sehwag was at 23 hundreds. Dravid, who has the most runs and the best average, is the one with least Test tons (22). after 99 Tests, among them.
It is important to note that contrary to popular belief, the decade in which Kohli has played – 2010 to 2019 – has largely been dominated by bowlers in Tests. In the last decade, batsmen ruled the roost in the T20s and ODIs, but bowlers made merry in the longer format.
From 2010 onwards, Kohli’s Test average (50.39) is the second highest in the world after Australian great Steve Smith (59.87) among the batsmen who have scored at least 7,500 runs. Both Kohli and Smith have scored 27 Test hundreds each – more than other batters – during this period. This puts Kohli’s spectacular achievements in context.
No Indian ever has achieved the distinction of scoring a hundred in his 100th Test. However, three batsmen – Javed Miandad, Inzamam-ul-Haq and Joe Root – have scored a hundred in their 100th Test against India.
Kohli, who hasn’t notched up an international ton for over two years, has a chance to break the jinx and become the first Indian ever to smash a hundred in the 100th Test.
Overall, nine cricketers have attained the feat of scoring a hundred in their 100th Test. Among them, Ricky Ponting deserves a special mention as he remains the only cricketer to score hundred in both the innings of his 100the Test. His bravura performance came against South Africa in 2006 at Sydney.
Joe Root holds the record of highest score (218) in an innings in the 100th Test. He’s the only batsman to rack up a double ton in his 100th Test. His masterful innings helped England to thrash India by 227 runs at Chennai in 2021.
England’s Colin Cowdrey was the first cricketer to reel off a hundred in the 100th Test, as he cracked 104 against Australia at Birmingham in 1968.
At present, Sachin, Dravid and Gavaskar are the three Indian cricketers who have scored more than 10,000 Test runs. Kohli is just 34 and still has a lot of cricket left in him. He can take a leaf out of Sachin and Dravid’s book who played Test cricket till 40. If he maintains his supreme fitness and regains his mojo, he has the wherewithal to achieve this milestone and many, many more.