The rise and rise of Virat Kohli over the last few years has led to speculations about how many records he could break and the new ones that he could set. With 35 hundreds and nearly 10000 runs in ODIs from only 208 matches, it seems only a matter of time before he goes past Sachin Tendulkar’s record of 49 tons and 18426 runs in the same format.
But is there anyone who can challenge Kohli and break his records? Unlikely as it may seem, there are some contenders who could raise the bar and better even Kohli’s numbers. It won’t be easy but here is a list of five batsmen who could accomplish the feat of becoming the fastest to 8000, 9000, 10000 etc runs.
#1 Hashim Amla
It’s hard to find a player who is a more polar opposite to Kohli than Hashim Amla. The always soft-spoken and gentlemanly Amla also possesses a different batting style from the outspoken and fiery Kohli. Yet, it is he who stands the best chance to break Kohli’s records for the simple reason that he has done that a lot already.
Once he got his footing in international cricket, Kohli started raising the bar in terms of time taken to reach landmark runs and centuries. He became the fastest batsman to score 5000, 6000 and 7000 ODI runs and was invariably the fastest to get to a particular number of centuries when he scored them.
But Amla with his unassuming style of batting got to those landmarks faster than Kohli, almost undetected. He is now the fastest batsman to score multiples of 1000 runs from 2000 to 7000 and looks good to keep going on in this spree. As of now, he has also been getting to milestones of ODI hundreds quicker than Kohli. With 26 hundreds from just 161 innings he looks good to set even higher standards in ODI cricket but the recent surge of form of Kohli means the incline of his success needs to be steeper for him to continue this trend.
But at the moment, he poses the biggest threat to Kohli’s records.
#2 Shikhar Dhawan
Shikhar Dhawan indeed could be ‘the one’ to challenge Kohli’s supremacy when it comes to ODI batting stats. He got to 2000 and 3000 runs faster than Kohli and was just behind him in getting to 4000. In terms of hundreds also, he is reaching the landmarks faster than Kohli, as of now.
While Amla relies on timing and wrist work to find gaps and keeps accumulating runs, Dhawan, like Kohli, usually dominates attacks when he gets going. Ruthless through the off-side, Dhawan’s only drawback has been his vulnerability, at times, to the short balls. Otherwise, he has shown the ability to score big runs all around the world, especially in ICC tournaments.
If he could show the same determination to turn fifties into hundreds, Shikhar could go on the same record breaking spree that Kohli and Amla have been on so far.
#3 Quinton de Kock
No team knows how dangerous Quinton de Kock is as a batsman more than India, with the South African having scored 5 hundreds against the Men in Blue in just a dozen matches. In terms of his comparison with Kohli, he is perhaps best endowed to produce the kind of enthralling performances that Kohli usually is known for.
Fierce when cutting the ball, majestic when driving and brutal when pulling, de Kock has been thrilling to watch so far in his 90-match ODI career. He is also one of a handful of batsmen to have scored three consecutive ODI hundreds.
His strike rate in terms of matches per hundred is up there with the best and he has raked up ODI tons faster than most other batsmen in the history of the game. If he hadn’t suffered a couple of dips in form during his young career, he could well have bettered his opening partner Amla’s set of records.
Unlike the two batsmen mentioned before, de Kock has the advantage of having age on his side. More than three years younger to Kohli, if he continues to retain his form and maintains consistency, there is no reason why he cannot give the Indian a run for his money by getting to major milestones in a shorter span of time. And with his batting style, he would be as exciting to watch as the Indian master.
#4 Babar Azam
Every cricket-playing nation now wants to have its own Kohli and Pakistani cricket experts feel they have found theirs in Babar Azam. Making his debut in 2015, Azam suddenly grabbed everyone’s attention when he scored three consecutive centuries against West Indies in 2016. Since then, he was earmarked as Pakistan’s answer to Kohli and generally he has shown the same appetite as the Indian captain for scoring tons.
He scored his seventh ODI century in only his 33rd match and was the joint fastest to reach the mark of 1000 ODI runs. But the reason why it is probably a bit early to compare him with Kohli is that he is more of an accumulator rather than an attacking batsman, unlike the Indian captain. Azam seems more intent on building an innings rather than taking on the bowling attack as the likes of Kohli, Dhawan and de Kock do.
But this may change in the near future. In a 10 over-a-side charity match recently, Azam scored a hundred in just 26 balls, which suggests that he has the ability to go ballistic also.
What makes people compare him to Kohli is his balance at the wicket and great timing. If he continues to show the hunger he has so far, Kohli may have a great rival to contend with in the future.
#5 Joe Root
English cricket’s blue-eyed boy Joe Root belongs to this list not just because he got to 3000 and 4000 ODI runs faster than Kohli but also because, in an interview to BBC, he openly admitted that he seeks to match Kohli’s record in ODI cricket.
His own record looks quite good, especially coming from a country where batsmen often found replicating their success in the longer format of the game to the 50-over game rather difficult. But Root hasn’t had this problem and though his rate of scoring a hundred, on an average - approximately every 10 games - doesn’t look comparable to Kohli’s corresponding stats.
There is no reason to not expect his numbers to improve in the coming years as well as his ability to turn fifties into hundreds. Being younger than Kohli means he too has age on his side and unlike de Kock, he has remained consistent in his career so far and has never really lost his form completely since becoming a regular member of the English team.
Among all the challengers to Kohli’s supremacy, Root seems most solid and reliable.