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Babar Azam vs Virat Kohli: Batting and captaincy comparison

The meteoric rise of Pakistan cricket captain Babar Azam and his unparalleled consistency across all formats of the game has fast led to a hot debate of Babar Azam vs Virat Kohli, the former king of cricket.

Both the Indian and Pakistan batting greats Babar Azam, Virat Kohli feature in a unique list of players which also includes Steve Smith, Kane Williamson, Joe Root, and Rohit Sharma as the greatest batters of the modern era of cricket.

Taking one look at Virat Kohli stats and Babar Azam stats is enough to seal the argument that they are two generational icons who often end up going toe-to-toe on the biggest of stages. The rivalry between Virat Kohli vs Babar Azam has always been friendly and courteous off the field and has never become nasty.

However, there’s always a competitive edge when it comes to pitting the two batters against each other. It is quite evident when they take to the field in iconic India vs Pakistan cricket matches which happens rarely these days and only in ICC tournaments and Asia Cup.

With that being said, let’s take a close look at the careers of both Babar Azam and Virat Kohli so far and determine who is the better batsman and better captain in international cricket.

Babar Azam vs Virat Kohli: Batting stats comparison

Babar Azam vs Virat Kohli in Test cricket

StatBabar AzamVirat Kohli
Matches42102
Innings75173
Runs31228074
Avg47.349.53
200s07
100s727
50s2328
Best Score196254*

Test cricket is considered to be the purest format of the sport and it is a true test of a batter’s technique, patience, grit, determination, adaptability, and consistency. Unsurprisingly, Virat Kohli leads the comparison in Test cricket and his records speak for themselves. He has scored 8074 runs at an average of 49.53 compared to Babar’s 3122 runs at an average of 47.3.

Kohli has also registered 20 more centuries than Babar in the longest format of the sport. The Pakistani captain has never crossed the 200-run mark in Test cricket before while Kohli has seven 200+ scores to his name.

Kohli is also the fastest player to score 7,000 runs in the longest format having done so in just 81 matches. He has also played match-winning knocks and won Tests in England and Australia and has proved his mettle against all kinds of bowlers and in different kinds of conditions.

Babar Azam vs Virat Kohli in ODI cricket

StatBabar AzamVirat Kohli
Match92262
Innings90253
Runs466412344
Avg59.7957.68
SR89.7492.84
100s1743
50s2264
Best158183

Once again there is no comparison here. Former Indian captain Virat Kohli is hailed as the greatest One Day International batsman of his generation and arguably of all time. With 12,344 runs, he is the sixth-highest run-scorer in ODI history and still has plenty of time to catch up to those at the top including Mahela Jayawardene and Sanath Jayasuriya.

Kohli’s ODI batting average of 57.68 is also the highest among anyone in the top 10 list of run-scorers and he has scored an astonishing 43 centuries in the ODI format. He is only behind countryman and former teammate Sachin Tendulkar in this aspect and needs seven tons to break his ODI centuries record.

A young Virat Kohli had also played a major role in India winning the ODI World Cup on home soil in 2011 after playing his first international match in this format only three years earlier. His longevity at the top speaks for itself and Kohli also has a better strike rate of 92.84 compared to Babar Azam’s 89.74 and the former Indian captain also has the highest score of 183 in this format.

Babar has never won a World Cup before but both Kohli and Babar have the ICC Champions Trophy in their list of achievements and Pakistan’s famous 2017 win came at the expense of Kohli-led India in the final.

Even though Babar is showing signs of becoming an all-time great in this format for Pakistan and is ranked number 1 in the world by ICC, comparing Kohli as an ODI batter to anybody in the world is a sin, let alone Babar Azam.

Babar Azam vs Virat Kohli in T20I cricket

StatBabar AzamVirat Kohli
Match84107
Innings7999
Runs29393660
Avg43.2250.83
SR129.93138.06
Hundred21
Fifty2633
Best122122*

In T20I cricket, the comparison is closer between the two unlike ODIs and Tests, but even here, it is Virat Kohli who has an edge over Babar Azam. The former Indian captain has played 107 T20I matches in his career compared to Babar’s 84. Despite playing over 20 matches more than the Pakistan captain, it is astounding how Kohli’s average is still over 50 in this format. Babar’s batting average, meanwhile, is 43.22.

Strike Rate is also a very useful tool in analysing a batsman’s impact in the shortest format of the sport. Here too, Kohli reigns supreme with a strike rate of 138.06 compared to Babar’s 129.93. Even though Babar is the number 1 ranked ICC T20I batter, questions continue to be raised regarding his strike rate and lack of aggression.

Kohli, on the other hand, has won the Most Valuable Player award at two T20 World Cups in 2014 and 2016. Despite this, he has never lifted a T20 World Cup trophy and neither has Babar Azam.

Babar Azam vs Virat Kohli: Captaincy comparison

Captaincy in Tests

StatBabar AzamVirat Kohli
Match1366
Wins839
Loss316
Draw011
Win %61.5359.09%

Despite being a fairly newly appointed captain of Pakistan in Tests, Babar Azam has started off his career as captain on a strong note. He has led Pakistan in 13 matches, winning eight of them and has a win percentage of 61.53.

With that being said, however, Babar’s captaincy skills are yet to be tested under the strongest opponents and in difficult circumstances away from home. Although Virat Kohli has a lower win percentage of 59.09, he is considered to be one of the most successful Test captains in history as he took charge of Team India in 66 matches and led them to victories on 39 occasions.

Kohli has made history by leading India to Test series wins in Australia twice, accomplishing it for the first time in their history. Under him, Team India have also played brilliant cricket in England, South Africa, and New Zealand and they even finished as the number 1 Test side in the world on plenty of occasions, winning the famous ICC maze.

Kohli transformed the Indian mentality and bowling approach in the purest format of the sport and made every match a memorable encounter with his passion and leadership skills. Therefore, he definitely wins the battle when it comes to Test cricket given that he is one of the finest ambassadors of the longest format.

Captaincy in ODIs

StatBabar AzamVirat Kohli
Match1895
Wins1265
Losses527
Tied11
No Results02
Win %69.4470.43

Virat Kohli has led India in 95 One Day matches, and has won 65 of those. He has a win percentage of 70.4% in this format which is higher than Babar Azam’s 69.44. Babar has won 12 of Pakistan’s 18 ODI matches as captain.

Under Kohli, India finished as runners-up in the ICC Champions Trophy in 2017 and also suffered a heart-break in the semi-final in the 2019 ICC World Cup held in England. He has an excellent captaincy record in this format.

Captaincy in T20Is

StatBabar AzamVirat Kohli
Match5150
Wins3130
Losses1516
Tied02
No Results52
Win %67.3964.58

Babar Azam has actually captained Pakistan in more T20I matches than Kohli and has a marginally better record. He has won 31 of 51 games compared to Kohli’s 30 wins in 50 matches. Led by Babar, Pakistan exited from the semi-finals of the ICC T20 World Cup in 2021 at the hands of eventual winners Australia. His captaincy in this format will be tested once again in the T20 World Cup later this year but Babar wins this comparison over his compatriot Kohli.

Conclusion

It is clear from the above comparisons that not only is Virat Kohli a better batsman than Babar Azam in all three formats of cricket, he is also a better captain. The only aspect of the game where Babar trumps Kohli is as T20I captain but even there the difference between the two is marginal.

Therefore, it is quite suggestive that Virat Kohli is the better batsman and captain when compared to Babar Azam.

FAQs

Who has scored more centuries in Babar Azam vs Virat Kohli?

With 71 centuries, Virat Kohli has scored way more centuries than Babar Azam, who has 26 tons to his name.

Which shot do both Kohli and Babar love to play?

Both Virat Kohli and Babar Azam are masters of the cover drive stroke in cricket.

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