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Can Virat Kohli go past Sachin Tendulkar's record tally of 18,426 ODI runs?

ANALYST
Feature
05 Dec 2019, 02:48 IST

Virat Kohli has emerged as the best ODI batsman of the modern era
Virat Kohli has emerged as the best ODI batsman of the modern era

To call Virat Kohli a batting run machine would be an understatement. Kohli has been in surreal form with the willow over the past five years. No bowling attack has been able to dislodge him, and he has emerged as the best ODI batsman of the modern era.

The batting gladiator is already considered by many as one of the greatest batsmen of all time. And Kohli has the numbers to back that claim.

The 31-year-old superstar has scored a staggering 11520 runs in ODI cricket, at a whopping average of 60.31. He is already second in the list of highest century makers, with 43 to his name. Kohli also occupies the eighth position in the list of all-time highest run-scorers.

Sachin Tendulkar is the leading run scorer in ODI cricket.
Sachin Tendulkar is the leading run scorer in ODI cricket.

While Kohli will almost certainly go past Tendulkar’s record tally of centuries (49) in ODI cricket, he also has a good chance of going past the master’s record tally of 18,426 runs. Let us look at the arguments in favor of and against that possibility.

At the outset, we shall take a glance at Tendulkar’s record in ODI cricket.

Sachin Tendulkar's overall ODI record
Sachin Tendulkar's overall ODI record

As we can see, Tendulkar played a colossal 463 ODI matches across a 23-year ODI career and piled up 18,426 runs at an average of 44.83. While it might not be possible for Kohli to play as many matches as Tendulkar did, he probably won't need to play that much to break the record.

Here's a look at Kohli’s overall batting record as of now:

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Virat Kohli's overall ODI record.
Virat Kohli's overall ODI record.

At 31 years of age, Kohli has already scored 11,520 runs from 230 innings in ODI cricket. Based on his average, it is quite simple for us to estimate that Kohli would need to play just 368 innings to go past Tendulkar, which is a direct extrapolation of his current numbers.

Now let us crunch the numbers even further, and look at Tendulkar’s and Kohli’s records at the age of 31.

Tendulkar after 31 years of age 

Tendulkar's ODI record after 31 years of age.
Tendulkar's ODI record after 31 years of age.

It interesting to note that Tendulkar had played as many as 337 matches by the time he was 31 years old - an incredible 98 matches more than Kohli. However, the Little Master had scored just 1,614 runs more than Kohli at that age.

Kohli after 31 years of age

Kohli's ODI record after 31 years of age
Kohli's ODI record after 31 years of age

At the age of 31, Kohli’s scoring rate is almost inhuman. And that is the reason why he is only 1,614 runs short in spite of the huge difference in matches played between him and Tendulkar.

Now, let us dig further and look at Kohli’s record over the last five years in ODI cricket.

Kohli's ODI record in the last 5 years
Kohli's ODI record in the last 5 years

Over the last five years, Kohli has piled up as many as 5,312 runs in ODI cricket. To go with that unbelievable run tally, he has also scored a whopping 22 hundreds and 21 fifties.

If we average out Kohli’s runs across the last five years in ODI cricket, you get an amount of 1,062 runs per year. So if Kohli were to continue this batting spree and score 1,062 runs per year, he would have scored as many as 16,830 runs by the end of 2024.

We have taken the average over five years here because Kohli could well have a rise or dip in form over the next half a decade. He could also suffer from untimely injuries and play fewer matches than usual. There might be years where he scores more than 1,000 ODI runs, and years where he scores way less as well.

Kohli would be 36 years old by the end of 2024. That means if he maintains his current pace, he would be 1,596 runs short of Tendulkar by the time he is in his mid-30s.

Virat Kohli in company with Sachin Tendulkar
Virat Kohli in company with Sachin Tendulkar

Indian cricketers have a tendency to carry on late into their 30s. Tendulkar played on till 40, Rahul Dravid retired at 39, and MS Dhoni is still hanging around at 38. If Kohli can follow the same trend and carry on till the age of 38, Tendulkar’s gargantuan run tally can be beaten.

Kohli looked up to Tendulkar when he was growing up, and he might well be the man who overtakes his idol's records by the time his career is over.          

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