If there was anything like a purple patch, then India captain Virat Kohli is going through one. The third ODI of the series against South Africa in Cape Town on Wednesday yielded another hundred for the batting maestro. His second in three matches. Kohli is well and truly a run machine and has a special affinity for centuries. He has been rattling off hundreds like it was the easiest thing to do, and that too across formats. And the cornerstone of his batting in the blue jersey of India has been consistency.
What this phenomenal form with the bat does is that it spawns comparison. It tempts you to juxtapose Kohli's record with that of the others in the list of the top-five century-getters in ODIs. You tend to be curious about how consistent each of them has been vis-a-vis Kohli in terms of scoring ODI centuries. Let's see what the numbers say.
The unbeaten 160 in Cape Town took Kohli closer to table-topper Sachin Tendulkar; Kohli is now only 15 adrift of the Master Blaster in scoring ODI centuries, and he has played less than half the total number of innings that Tendulkar had played. Given that Kohli is still 29 and supremely fit, he could play for at least a decade more. It gives you goosebumps to imagine the tally that he might end up with. It may just be three years before he overtakes Tendulkar at the top of the century-getters' pile and even by a conservative estimate, he may well end with 70-75 hundreds in ODIs. An estimate of Kohli's penchant for slamming hundreds can be seen from the fact that his last 16 ODI innings produced six centuries. The Cape Town hundred was the second in three matches so far in this series, the third century in his last four matches and fourth century in his last six matches. Indeed consistency has been Kohli's middle name. When Tendulkar was scoring those hundreds one after another, opening up a massive gap with his peers, one thought it might be the last word on batting dominance, but Kohli is fast taking himself to a completely different level.
It is therefore not surprising that Kohli took almost 100 innings less than Tendulkar in getting to 34 ODI tons. He has been scoring a century after nearly every six innings compared to Tendulkar's record of a century after every nine innings. Among the other top-five century-getters, only Hashim Amla comes close. Legends Ricky Ponting and Sanath Jayasuriya, for all their runs and centuries, accumulated tons far less frequently.
Kohli also scores over most of the others in terms of conversion rate of fifties into hundreds. Thus on 43.03 percent of the occasions that he crosses a fifty, he goes on to hit a hundred. The corresponding figures for Tendulkar, Ponting and Jayasuriya are 33.79 percent, 26.78 and 26.16 respectively. Amla has a conversion rate a touch higher than Kohli at 43.33 percent.
Kohli and Amla roughly converts every second fifty into a hundred, while Tendulkar used to convert on an average, every fourth fifty into a hundred. Ponting and Jayasuriya had more modest conversion rates, getting a hundred after crossing fifty almost four times.
At Cape Town on Wednesday, Kohli also became the India captain with most ODI hundreds, going past Sourav Ganguly's 11 in the process. But what makes for a glaring difference in consistency is the fact that while Ganguly got those hundreds in 142 innings, Kohli went past the former Indian skipper in 43 innings itself – which is less than even one-third matches that Ganguly took.
Thus clearly, Kohli has been leaving all and sundry behind as far as records and milestones are concerned. It is a testimony to Kohli's fitness, hunger and skill that he has made slamming hundreds a habit, and what has been most heartening is that he has been getting them against every opposition and in all conditions. Amla, though, would have given him a run for his money, had he played as frequently Kohli does. But the India captain is fast taking himself far out of reach of the others. Indeed consistency, for Virat Kohli, is the name of the game.