Ever since Babar Azam, the current captain of Pakistan for all formats of cricket, started showing his dominance in international cricket, comparison with Indian batsman and former skipper Virat Kohli has dominated discourses on cricket.
Virat Kohli has been declared the ICC player of the decade after dominating world cricket for more than 10 years. On the other hand, Babar Azam also cemented his position as one of the best batters in this era, after some stellar performances in Test, ODI, and also T20 matches. So, in this article, we will try to compare these two batsmen from the subcontinent.
History of playing for respective national cricket teams:
Let us look at their cricketing journey first. Virat started playing cricket from a very young age. His father recognized the potential in him and his coach, Rajkumar Sharma, nurtured his talent. He became the captain of the India Under-19 team in 2008 and his team won the Under-19 World Cup that year - thus Virat came into the limelight. He made his ODI debut that year against Sri Lanka as an opener in the absence of the regular one. He played some good knocks in the initial phase of his career. He made his T20 debut after two years against Zimbabwe. But the main turning point in Virat’s career occurred when he was selected in the World Cup 2011 squad. He grabbed that chance and scored a century in his maiden World Cup match against Bangladesh. He scored 282 runs in 9 matches and that included his crucial knock of 36 in a tricky situation in the final.
The story of Babar Azam is also very interesting. He was one of the ball pickers in the South Africa series in 2007. Then, in 2012, he became the captain of Pakistan in the Under 19 World Cup and finished the tournament as the highest run-getter for his team. He made his ODI debut in 2015 against Zimbabwe and the next year, he made his debut in Test and T20 cricket against West Indies and England respectively.
babar azam vs virat kohli stats
Virat has scored more than 12000 runs in 260 ODI innings at an average of 58.1, including 43 centuries. In many of those games, Kohli has remained unbeaten with a very good strike rate. In Test cricket, he has scored more than 7000 runs (27 centuries) in 99 Test matches with an average of 55.7 and in 96 T20 matches, he has scored 3244 runs with an average of 51.5. He has a decent strike rate of 137.9.
In this short time, Babar scored more than 3985 runs in ODI with a batting average of 56.9 and 2461 runs in Test with an average of 54.9. He has 14 ODI centuries and 5 Test centuries. In T20 cricket, he scored 2620 runs in 68 innings at a very good strike rate of 130. He has scored even a century in a T20 cricket match against South Africa.
What are their batting styles?
Virat’s main goal has always been to do well for India in red-ball cricket and he has done that. He made his Test debut in the Caribbean islands in July 2011 and ushered in a revolution in Test cricket. With his aggressive and never-die attitude, he became the best Test batter in this era. Virat has played exceptionally well in overseas conditions. His knocks in SENA countries are especially tremendous. Out of his 27 Test centuries, 11 came in SENA countries. Babar has also done quite well in his Test career and became the captain of the Pakistan Test team last year. He has a Test century in Australia, but he needs a long time to achieve what Virat has done in Test cricket. But in T20I currently, Babar Azam is a run-getter with the highest average in SENA countries.
Let's look at their ICC rankings now. In the last few years, they are among those few batsmen across the world who kept their positions in ICC's top 10 rankings in all three formats every year. Their positions in the ranking list kept interchanging. Sometimes, Virat overtakes Babar in the ranking and sometimes the opposite happens.
Currently, Virat has a ranking of 7 in Test, 2 in ODI, and 10 in T20. On the other hand, Babar is currently the number one batsman in ODI & T20; and in Test cricket, his ranking is 9. Although Babar is in a better position in the limited-overs format, we all know the legacy of chase master Virat Kohli in the two shorter formats of the game. We also have to remember that Virat was at the top of the ICC rankings in ODI cricket for almost four years, precisely for 1258 days, before Babar overtook him in April 2021.
Babar azam vs Virat kohli records as captains
The Virat Kohli vs Babar Azam comparison is now no longer limited to their batting skills. The comparison reached a different altitude when Babar Azam-led Pakistan beat Virat Kohli-led India in the ICC T20 World Cup 2021. Before that match, Pakistan never won any World Cup match against India. So, after that match, Babar Azam became the first-ever Pak captain to beat India in a World Cup and Virat Kohli became the first Indian captain to lose an India vs Pakistan World Cup match.
Virat’s consistency in Test cricket went to the next level when he became the captain of the Indian team. Virat has been the most successful Indian captain in Test cricket. Skipper Virat Kohli stepped down after becoming the fourth most successful Test captain in the world with a winning percentage of 50%. No other Indian captain won more Test matches than Virat.
The biggest achievement of Babar Azam as the captain of Pakistan is to beat India in the World Cup. In his maiden World Cup venture as captain, he took his team to the semi-final of the ICC T20 World Cup 2021. He was calm and composed and was very clear with his plans. He captained the young Pakistan side brilliantly.
Surprisingly in the IPL, in spite of scoring lots of runs over the years, Virat has failed to win the championship title as the captain of RCB. His best captaincy stunt was in 2016 when he single-handedly took his team to the finals, but unfortunately lost by a fair margin. He has decided to step down as RCB captain also and will continue playing for RCB as a normal player in IPL 2022.
As far as captaincy is concerned, Babar is a newcomer. He has been appointed as the captain of the PSL franchise, Karachi Kings, in 2021. Azam took his team to the playoffs in that season
What is expected from them in 2022?
As there is a T20 World Cup to be held in 2022, we expect solid contributions from both of them with the bat. Huge responsibility rests on their shoulders to perform well and take their team towards glory.
So, to conclude this, we can say, Babar is probably in the same league as Kohli. He has a long, bright future ahead and has the potential to be a better T20 batsman than Virat Kohli in the years to come. But in ODI cricket, if we compare Virat with Babar, Virat in his peak is more dominating than Babar Azam. We expect that by the time of his retirement, the Pakistani batsman would be just like his idol, Virat Kohli. And as far as test cricket is concerned, Virat’s stats are unmatchable. Babar has that potential, but he has to maintain the consistency throughout this decade to be truly comparable with Virat Kohli in the Test format.