Kohli better than Smith in ODIs, claims Clarke – but backs Australia skipper in Tests
India captain Virat Kohli is a superior one-day international batsman to Australia counterpart Steve Smith, according to former Aussie skipper Michael Clarke.
Kohli and Smith are poised to go head-to-head in five ODIs and three Twenty20s, starting in Chennai on September 17.
Both men have taken their game to new heights since taking on the captaincy of their countries – Smith has averaged almost 70 in Tests since replacing Clarke, while a hundred in the recent whitewash-sealing win over Sri Lanka left Kohli with just the iconic Sachin Tendulkar above him in terms of 50-over international centuries.
And Clarke believes those achievements highlight clearly the field in which field each man excels.
"In limited-overs cricket, I think Virat is ahead of Steve, but just by that much," he said. "Smith I believe is a better Test batsman.
"I think over the next few days, everybody would want to speak about Steve Smith vs Virat Kohli but at the end of the day, it comes down to one thing, and that is the team that wins.
"It doesn't matter who makes the runs – Kohli or Smith. At the end of the day, your job as a captain is to win."
Clarke added: "Another focal point besides their batting is their assessment as leaders. And honestly, at the moment, I think it's very even at this stage of their careers.
"Two young captains, two very good players and they both continue to improve. Along with that, like I said, what's important as a captain is that your team is winning.
"And at the moment, Kohli's team is winning. Smith needs to find a way to crack that momentum early on in the series and needs to find a way for Australia to pick it again."
Smith contributed 55 as Australia's preparations kicked up a gear with a 103-run win over the Indian President's XI in Chennai on Tuesday.
David Warner hit 64 at the top of the order, while Marcus Stoinis top-scored with 76 before Ashton Agar took 4-44 to boost his chances of selection in the series.