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Steve Smith vs Virat Kohli: Who comes out on top?

Indian batsman Virat Kohli comes out on top in the debates of Steve Smith vs Virat Kohli. Both players are regarded as modern greats by cricket fans and have had prestigious careers so far. Steve Smith and Virat Kohli are also part of the ‘Fab Four’ that also consists of Joe Root and Kane Williamson.

Steve Smith and Virat Kohli have played international cricket with distinction ever since their explosion onto the scene. Discussions of Kohli versus Smith are inevitable during the Border Gavaskar Trophy or whenever India and Australia play bilateral cricket against each other.

Steve Smith is currently on the tour of Pakistan with the Australian Test side while Virat Kohli is preparing for the start of IPL 2022 with Royal Challengers Bangalore. Without further ado, let’s take a detailed look at the careers of both batsmen across all three formats of the sport to see who comes out on top.

Steve Smith vs Virat Kohli: Runs scored in Tests, ODIs and T20Is

PlayerTest matchesTest runsODI matchesODI runsT20I matchesT20I runs
Virat Kohli101804326012311973296
Steve Smith847934128494754886

Virat Kohli may have been going through a rough patch in his career over the last two seasons. Runs have been hard to come by and even on days he has looked in good touch, he has got out in ridiculous manners. However, as is clear from the table, Virat Kohli has more well-rounded stats and numbers across all three formats compared to Steve Smith.

Of course, the value of Steve Smith increases in the longest format of the sport. The Australian batter has been in wonderful form lately. He chalked up half-centuries in the first Test, second Test as well as third Test match against Pakistan recently.

Steve Smith vs Virat Kohli: in Test cricket

Test cricket is said to be the most difficult format and is a true measure of a player’s technique and ability. Batsmen face more challenges from bowlers in Test cricket than any other format and need to be smart and on their toes all the time.

PlayerTest matchesTest InningsTest runsAverageHighest ScoreNot Outs100s200s
Virat Kohli101171804349.9625410277
Steve Smith84149793460.1123917273

Steve Smith has a phenomenal batting average of 60.11 in Test cricket which is only bettered by the great Sir Donald Bradman and Herbert Sutcliffe among players who have played more than 50 Tests. Virat Kohli had a difficult start to his Test career but has evolved into a fine batsman in the longest format of the sport and had an average of over 50 for a long time before it dipped below the mark following the recent home series against Sri Lanka.

Steve Smith and Virat Kohli both have scored 27 Test centuries each but Smith has done so having played 17 fewer matches. Both Virat Kohli and Steve Smith love playing against each other’s country. Kohli has 2083 runs against Australia at an average of 54.82 and has scored eight centuries against them. Steve Smith has plundered 1742 runs against India at an astonishing average of 72.58 which also includes scoring a Test century on eight occasions.

Virat Kohli and Steve Smith have pretty comparable averages at home in Test cricket. Kohli has scored 3847 runs in 71 innings at an average of 61.06 in India while Steve Smith has 3901 runs to his name from 73 innings at an average of 62.92 in Test matches in Australia.

However, the difference between the two batsmen shows itself in away Tests. Virat Kohli has scored 4196 runs in 100 innings at an average of 42.82. Steve Smith, on the other hand, has amassed 4109 runs from 78 innings at a stunning average of 53.59.

While Virat Kohli is a modern-day great Test batsman, it is quite clear that Steve Smith edges him in this format of the game. Smith has better numbers and has also delivered more to his country’s cause than Kohli. It must also be added here that Steve Smith got served a one year ban in Test cricket when he was caught in the Sandpaper Gate along with David Warner and Cameron Green.

In ODI cricket

While the two batsmen were on toe-to-toe against each other, white-ball cricket paints a completely different picture.

PlayerODI matchesODI runsAverageHighest ScoreStrike RateNot Outs100s50s
Virat Kohli2601231158.0718392.92394364
Steve Smith128437843.3516488.5121125

There’s little contest in the debate between Virat Kohli vs Steve Smith in ODI cricket as Kohli not only beats Smith in every possible criterion but is also among the greatest ODI batsmen of all time.

Virat Kohli has the highest ODI average among players who have played more than 50 ODI matches. He is also only six centuries short of Sachin Tendulkar’s record of 49 ODI centuries.

On the other hand, since his ODI debut in 2010, Steve Smith has played less than half of the ODIs Virat Kohli has played with only 128 caps. He has scored 4378 runs so far at an average of 43.35 and has 11 centuries to his name which pales in comparison to Virat Kohli’s numbers in ODI cricket.

In T20I cricket

In T20Is too, Virat Kohli is miles ahead of Steve Smith. Such has been his dominance in this format, that Virat Kohli is the third-highest scorer in T20I cricket behind Rohit Sharma and Martin Guptill.

PlayerT20I matchesT20I runsAverageHighest ScoreStrike RateNot Outs100s50s
Virat Kohli97329651.594137.6825030
Steve Smith5488626.0690125.32904

This is pretty much a no-brainer. Virat Kohli is one of the finest exponents of the shortest formats of the sport and has played with distinction. Virat Kohli was also chosen as Player of the Tournament in the 2014 and 2016 T20 World Cups. He also holds the highest T20I batting average.

Steve Smith, in comparison, is not really a great player in this format. His approach is too slow which is indicated by his strike rate of 125.32. While he is an expert at finding gaps in the field, Smith also records a pretty low average of 26.06. Smith has managed only four half-centuries in 54 innings which is regarded as a poor return.


Even in the Indian Premier League, it is Virat Kohli who comes out on top. Kohli is one of the greatest players to have ever graced the league. He’s also the highest run-scorer in IPL history. For comparison, Steve Smith went unsold in the IPL 2022 mega auction.

PlayerIPL matchesIPL runsAverageHighest ScoreStrike Rate100s50s
Virat Kohli207628337.4113129.95542
Steve Smith103248534.51101128.09111

While Steve Smith has better numbers in the Indian Premier League (average of 34.51 and strike rate of 128.09) compared to T20I cricket, he has never really been the face of a franchise consistently. On the other hand, Virat Kohli holds several all-time records in the IPL which seem unlikely to be broken.

Therefore, taking everything into consideration, it can be easily said that Virat Kohli is the winner of the Steve Smith vs Virat Kohli debate. The only area where Smith is better is Test cricket but Virat Kohli is a modern batsman who is exceptional across all three formats and has had a more celebrated career.


Who has scored more centuries between Steve Smith and Virat Kohli?

Virat Kohli has scored more centuries than Steve Smith. In fact, he is only behind Sachin Tendulkar (100) and Ricky Ponting (71) in the list of players with the most international cricket centuries. Virat Kohli has 70 hundreds to his name while Steve Smith has reached the three-figure mark on 38 occasions.

What is the captaincy record between Steve Smith and Virat Kohli?

Virat Kohli has a much better captaincy record than Steve Smith and is arguably the greatest Test captain India has ever seen. Kohli has captained India in 68 Tests, the most by any player, and he has won 40 of them. He is the most successful captain in the format with a win percent of 59.

Meanwhile, Steve Smith has captained Australia in 34 Tests until the Sandpaper incident. He has won 18 of these matches and has a winning percentage of 52.94 as captain.

Who is the better batsman between Virat Kohli and Steve Smith in Test cricket?

Steve Smith is regarded as a better Test batsman than Virat Kohli. Smith averages 60.11 in the longest format while Kohli has an average of 49.96 in Test cricket.


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