Test Cricket

Virat Kohli vs Joe Root: A Performance Comparison in Test Matches

A tough competition between both the players as we compare Virat Kohli vs Joe Root in Test matches.

The latest India vs England Test series is wonderfully poised looking at the context of the ICC World Test Championship. Only one of these two teams is going to play the finals vs New Zealand at Lord’s from June 18-22. While this is one battle that is going on between the teams, Joe Root’s phenomenal recent performance including his 2 double hundreds in 3 Tests has given rise to another hot topic of discussion, which if of Virat Kohli vs Joe Root.

Considered as the members of the elite ‘Fab 4’ of the modern era, Virat Kohli and Joe Root are regarded as the modern era Test greats. While both have been phenomenal overall in Test matches since their debut, Joe Root has currently reached the milestone of being the first player among Fab 4 to play 100 Test matches. 

So, with the kind of consistent performance we are seeing from Joe Root recently, wouldn’t it be interesting if we compare his performance with his current rival, Virat Kohli, in Test matches under different unique scenarios, and understand who has been a better performer? Alright then, let’s look at Virat Kohli vs Joe Root in Test matches under different unique scenarios. 

At Home:

At home, Virat Kohli has managed to score a total of 3558 runs from 60 innings at a fabulous average of 68.4. His highest score of 254* has come against South Africa in South Africa’s tour of India in 2019. At home, Virat has 13 centuries to his name, which is 1 less than his 14 away centuries. Virat’s consistency stands at 51.7% whereas his low-scores stand at 36.2%.

When it comes to playing at home, Joe Root has played almost 50% more cricket than Virat Kohli. Talking about his performance, Root has scored a total of 4348 runs from 94 innings at an average of 50.55, consistency of 45.7% and low-scores of 43.7%; all three not better than Virat Kohli.

Root’s performance is slightly surprising as a player generally performs better at home than away as we have seen from the performance of Smith, Kohli, and Kane. Nevertheless, Joe Root’s highest score of 254 has come at home against Pakistan in 2016. Overall, Joe Root has 11 centuries at home, that’s 1 more than his away centuries. 

Comparing the performance at home, Virat Kohli’s performance seems better than that of Joe Root in all aspects. Having said that, Joe Root’s performance isn’t bad either.   

In SNA countries:

A player’s true potential is recognized when we compare their performance against quality pitches and quality opponents. So, what better than judging Virat Kohli and Joe Root on neutral venues of SNA countries, which includes South Africa, New Zealand, and Australia. 

In SNA countries, Virat’s performance is quite good with 2162 runs from 43 innings at an average of 51.5, consistency of  46.5%, and low-scores of 39.5%. Overall, Virat has 9 hundreds to his name from 43 innings, and has a best of 169 against Australia in 2014. 

Talking about Root’s performance in SNA countries, it doesn’t look as good as that of  Virat Kohli. While Root has played a similar number of innings at 44, he has 400 runs less than Kohli, i.e 1742 runs at an average of 42.5. His consistency is decent at 44.2%, but his low-scores is same at 39.5%. The bad thing, however, is that Root has only 2 centuries in SNA countries; that’s 7 less than that of Kohli. 

Looking at the performance, Kohli once again has a better average and consistency, while their low-scores are quite similar. Technically, Root’s average and few centuries don’t go well with the brand name he carries. 

Against Top-ranked Teams:

While performance in SNA countries is important, performance against top-ranked teams is equally important. So, for Kohli, performance is considered against South Africa, England, New Zealand, and Australia. While for Joe Root, India, South Africa, New Zealand, and Australia are considered.

If we see the stats, Virat Kohli has been equally good against all 4 teams averaging close to 50. Overall, he has 5100 runs from 108 innings at an average of 51, consistency of 43.4%, and low-scores of 42.5%, which is slightly on the higher side. Interesting to note that 18 of his 27 hundreds have come against quality teams.

This is an area where Joe Root’s performance seems marginally better than Virat Kohli. Root has maintained a 40+ average against all these teams with his best coming against India where he has 1639 runs from 29 innings at an average of 63. Overall, against top-ranked teams, Joe Root has 5392 runs from 118 innings at an average of 49, consistency of 48.3%, and low-scores of 38.8%.  

Comparing the stats against top-ranked teams, Joe Root looks a better performer as compared to Virat Kohli with a similar average, but better consistency and low-scores.

Against Low-ranked Teams:

The performance against low-ranked teams like Pakistan, Sri Lanka West Indies, Bangladesh, Ireland, and Zimbabwe may not matter much, but it helps us understand how these two legends have performed against these teams. Also, it helps us understand what percentage of the overall record is contributed by performance against low-ranked teams. 

Talking about Virat Kohli, he has played a total of 39 innings against low-ranked teams; that’s 26.5% of his overall innings. In these 39 innings, Kolhi has scored a total of 2218 runs at a stunning average of 59.9 with a consistency of 48.7% and a low-scores of 41%, which is surprisingly on the higher side. `

Joe Root’s performance against the low-ranked team is again indifferent than what we have seen in the above categories. Overall, he has scored 3075 runs from 64 innings against low-ranked teams with an average of 53, consistency of 44.4%, and low-scores of 42.9%. Important to note, however, is that 3 of his 5 double-centuries have come against these teams.

If you compare, while Root’s performance is good against these low-ranked teams, Virat Kohli’s performance is a step ahead with a better average, consistency and low-scores. 

Last 3 Years (Jan 2018 – Current):

Talking about performance in the last 3 years, this is where things get pretty interesting. Virat Kohli has upped his game considerably in the last 3 years having scored 2050 runs from 41 innings at an average of 52.6, consistency of 48.7%, and low-scores of 39%. Moreover, he was able to achieve the number 1 ranking too during this period. 

For Joe Root, things aren’t bad either. He has played a lot of Test cricket during this period, which is almost 50% more than Kohli. Performance wise, Root has 2907 runs from 65 innings at an average of 46.9, consistency of 40.6%, and low-scores of 42.2%. Overall, his performance in the last three years has been slightly below-par as compared to his overall performance. 

Comparing the performance of these two players in the last three years, it seems to be a tie. While Virat Kohli has a better average and consistency as compared to Joe Root, his low-scores is something Virat will have to work on. 

Overall Performance and Conclusion:

Overall, Virat Kohli and Joe Root have quite similar numbers. While Kohli has scored 7318 runs from 147 innings at an average of 53.4, consistency of 44.8%, and low-scores of 42.1%, Joe Root has scored  8467 runs from 182 innings at an average of 50.4, consistency of  46.4%, and low-scores of 40.2%.

Concluding the analysis, Virat Kohli and Joe Root have very similar performance overall. However, Virat Kohli takes the lead when it comes to performance at home, in SNA countries, and against low-ranked teams. Whereas against top-ranked teams, Root has better performance, and their performance in the last three years is quite similar.  

Thanks for reading! Who do you think has been a better performer? Is it Virat Kohli or Joe Root? Please email me your comments on business@cricalytics.com 

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