Kohli moves to within point of Smith in Test rankings

Indian captain Virat Kohli’s brilliant 254* has moved him to within just a solitary point of Australian superstar Steve Smith in the ICC Test Batting Rankings. The two, who sit on 937 and 936 points, share a comfortable lead over third placed Kane Williamson, who has 878 points and is in turn significantly ahead of fourth placed Cheteshwar Pujara, at 817.

The move comes after a famous innings at Pune in the second Test of India’s current series against South Africa. After putting together a 20 and an undefeated 31 in the first Test, Kohli entered the first innings at Pune with his team sitting comfortably at 2/163. He proceeded to hang around for another 106 overs, compiling 254 runs off just 336 balls and finishing not out in what was an enormous boost to the already incredible career statistics he boasts.

The score was the highest ever for a man who, still a few days short of 31 years old, has already accumulated 7054 runs at an average of over 55. Prior to the innings, Kohli had surpassed 200 on six occasions – all of which, incredibly, came in 2016 and 2017 – but never had he passed 243 until Pune.

Kohli will have a chance to reclaim the number one spot in the rankings, which Smith took only a few Tests to win back following his 12 month suspension after a brilliant Ashes series, in the third Test in Ranchi. Smith won’t have a chance to return serve and improve his ranking until the end of November, when Australia’s summer of cricket begins with a two Test series against Pakistan.

The race for the number one ranking in the world might not be one that player’s concern themselves enormously with, but the see-sawing battle for the spot which Smith and Kohli are in the midst of is indicative of their extraordinary comparative feats. The two were born within a year of one another and have been the two best batsmen in the world for a long time, and as their respective careers progress they have each been etching their names into the history books as two of the best to ever play the game.

Indeed, Kohli has only AB de Villiers as a peer in the two shortest formats of the game, while Smith is putting together a career which could easily end up seeing him regarded as the best since Bradman. In another era Kane Williamson could easily be the best batsmen in the game, but instead he is forced down the podium by the ineffable dominance of these two extraordinary players.

At just 30 years of age, neither Kohli or Smith looks likely to slow down any time soon. Though Smith missed a year with suspension, they have both already put together career numbers which would see them regarded as two of the greats even if they retired tomorrow. As it is, however, the two are likely to remain at the top of their respective games for close to another half a decade, barring injury or any other surprising occurrences. It’s convenient – given how difficult it is to separate the two as players and our, as a sporting world, obsession with doing just that – that Kohli is so dominant in the shorter form of the game and Smith, at least according to the numbers, probably has the wood in the longer form, as it allows us a way to give them each their respective dues in ranking them. Regardless, however, of how you choose to rank them yourselves, it seems likely that we’re in for many more years of watching them compete for supremacy at the top of the world batting rankings, so strap yourselves in.

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