Virat Kohli vs Babar Azam in T20s: Detailed analysis on why they are the best in the business

India and Pakistan's captains Virat Kohli and Babar Azam are two of the world's best batsmen in the shortest format of the game.

Sudharshan Sridharan Author

Updated - 21 October 2021 2:38 pm

Both Virat Kohli and Babar Azam have been among the greatest batsmen in T20I format for their country and have achieved a lot in a short span of time. Currently, Babar Azam is on number 2 position while Virat Kohli is on number 4 position in the ICC T20I rankings among batsmen. Here in this article, we will analyze how Babar Azam and Virat Kohli have played in recent years in T20 and T20Is.

Babar Azam in T20s : 7055 runs at an average of 46.11 with S.R. of 128.85
Virat Kohli in T20s : 10136 runs at an average of 41.20 with S.R of 133.57

Babr Azam in T20Is : 2204 runs (56 innings) at average of 46.89 with S.R of 130.64
Virat Kohli in T20Is : 3159 runs (84 innings) at average of 52.65 with S.R of 139.04

Notably, Babar Azam has played 187 innings in T20 cricket while Virat Kohli has played 304 innings in T20s. Kohli made his T20 debut way back in 2007 while Babar Azam started his career in T20s during 2012. When it comes to T20Is, Virat Kohli is the all-time highest leading run-scorer and so far, he has been the only player to smash more than 3000 runs in this format. Kohli is also the only player to have won 2 man of the series awards in T20 World Cup. Though Virat Kohli has been GOAT batsman of T20 format overall, in the recent years Babar Azam has had an edge over Kohli in scoring more runs. But one should keep in mind that Pakistan have played more T20Is compared to India.

Most runs in T20 Cricket since 2019: 

Babar Azam - 4212 (99 inns) at average of 50.74
Alex Hales - 3559 (121 inns) at average of 32.95
James Vince - 3182 (111 inns) at average of 31.82 
KL Rahul - 2977 (72 inns) at average of 49.61
Liam Livingstone - 2882 (101 inns) at average of 31.32

Babar Azam has registered 37 fifties and 6 centuries (43 fifty-plus scores) from 99 innings. This means he has smashed 3 fifty-plus scores in every 7 innings on an average, which is an amazing feat for any player in T20 format. Since 2019, Babar Azam is the only batsman to smash 6 centuries in T20 cricket.

Virat Kohli has smashed 2327 runs from 68 innings in T20 cricket at batting average of 42.30 since 2019.
 
Though many have pointed out Babar Azam's Strike rate (137.10) as weak point but among other top order batsmen, he has been better when compared to the likes of KL Rahul (136.81), Colin Munro (133.88), David Malan (130.90), Faf du Plessis (134.64) Mohammad Rizwan (128.94), Virat Kohli (134.43), Aaron Finch (134.25), Chris Gayle (133.88), David Warner (134.78), Jason Roy (135.41), Rohit Sharma (132.59) & Fakhar Zaman (130.36). Only finishers like Pollard, Maxwell, Andre Russell have better strike rate with the bat than Babar Azam. So Babar Azam's striking ability shouldn't be doubted for a top order batsmen in T20Is.

Virat Kohli in IPL 2020 & 2021 season hasn't been in his best of forms. However, in T20Is he has been very good with the bat since 2019. 

Kohli in T20Is since 2019 : 992 runs from 24 innings at an average of 62 with a strike rate of 145.88.

Virat Kohli was impressive with the bat in T20Is in the 2019 series against West Indies, 2020 series against Australia and 2021 series against England. Despite all the talk on Kohli not scoring century in international cricket since Nov 2019, he has been in tremendous form when it comes to T20Is and in his last bilateral T20I series (against England), he won Man of the Series award. 

Meanwhile, Babar Azam has smashed 11 fifty-plus scores from just 23 innings after being appointed as T20I captain in 2019. For almost every 2nd innings, Babar Azam has smashed one fifty-plus score as captain in T20Is. As a captain only Virat Kohli has smashed more fifty-plus (12) scores in T20Is.

Most fifty-plus scores as captain in T20Is:

Virat Kohli - 12 (43 innings)
Babar Azam - 11 (23 innings)
Aaron Finch / Kane Williamson - 11 (49 innings)
Eoin Morgan - 9 (59 innings)
 
Babar Azam remains the only batsman to have smashed more than 2000 runs in T20Is post T20 WC 2016 (Played more innings compared to KL Rahul and Virat Kohli).  Given the recent form in T20 cricket, it can be said that Babar Azam has achieved more success when compared to Virat Kohli but it may take some more time for Babar Azam to reach the heights of what Kohli has achieved in international cricket.