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Virat Kohli + Alastair Cook = Sachin Tendulkar?

India Today logo India Today 26-10-2016

It takes two to tango and it might take two exceptionally talented men to break the records set by the great Sachin Tendulkar. Among the current generation of cricketers, Virat Kohli and Alastair Cook are the two of the most likely candidates who can or might be able to do the unthinkable.

Batting icon Sachin Tendulkar holds the record of being the highest run-scorer in one-day internationals and Test cricket. In his 24-year-old international career, Tendulkar scored a mind-boggling 18,426 runs in 463 ODIs and 15,921 runs in 200 Test matches. The enormity of the records is such that we need to look at the statistics of two modern greats to match that of Tendulkar.

Surpassing these numbers seemed unthinkable until a few years ago even when Tendulkar was playing in the final stages of his career. But the rate at which Kohli and Cook are scoring runs these days they might get close to the records which the 'Little Master' has set. It's still a long shot though.

Kohli carries the mantle of being the best ODI batsman in world cricket right now. The 27-year-old, who made his ODI debut in 2008, has already scored 7460 runs in 174 matches at an average of 52.90 with 26 hundreds and 37 half-centuries. Kohli recently equalled Tendulkar's world record of scoring 14 tons in successful run chases when his unbeaten 154 guided India to a 7-wicket win over New Zealand in the third ODI at Mohali.

Photos: The best quotes on Sachin Tendulkar

In his long and illustrious career spanning over 24 years, Sachin Tendulkar not only bludgeoned his opponents, he also won their respect and praise. On the legend’s 42nd birthday, we bring you a collection of best quotes on the Little Master. Click on! The best quotes on Sachin Tendulkar

But the point to be noted here is that Tendulkar took 124 innings to score those many tons while Kohli did it in just 59 innings. At this age and at the peak of his career, Kohli has already scored 26 tons in 166 innings, the fastest by any batsman by a long way and is fourth on the list of players with most ODI centuries. He overtook Sri Lanka legend Kumar Sangakkara, who needed 404 matches to score 25 tons. Tendulkar had taken 247 innings to score 26 centuries.

Kohli has amassed 3514 runs in 58 innings in successful run-chases at an average of 90.10, which is also the highest for any batsman with over 2500 runs in successful chases. Where Kohli also has an advantage over Tendulkar is that he doesn't get out in the nervous nineties as frequently. Tendulkar was dismissed 17 times in the 90s in 452 innings whereas Kohli has only failed to score a ton four times when he's entered that stage in 166 innings.

Tendulkar retired at the age of 40 and has often confessed in interviews that he wants an Indian to break his records. At 27, Kohli is probably at the best at where he can be along with supreme levels of fitness. If he is able to maintain his fitness and consistency with the bat then he will surely play at the top level for atleast another 10 years if not more. Tendulkar's wish might come true after all, atleast in ODI cricket.

Now let's turns our focus towards the longest format and Alastair Cook. At 31, England's Test captain already holds all the major batting records for his country. Cook is the most-capped English player, the highest run-getter for England with 10,615 runs in 241 innings, has scored more Test tons (29), more Test fifties (51) and been a part of most Test wins than any other English player in the history of the game. He is also the only active cricketer in the world who has scored more than 10,000 Test runs (youngest in Test history to reach the milestone) and has the second highest batting average (46.96) in the current side behind Joe Root (53.94).

Watch: Virat Kohli's debut ODI innings

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Ageing Pakistan legend Younis Khan (9612 runs) and South African superstar AB de Villiers (8074 runs) are the only two batsmen who are near the vicinity of Cook right now. Younis is 38 right now and might play for another couple of years at most. De Villiers, 32, will surely enter the 10,000-run club in another 2-3 years. But the amount of Test cricket that England play and the consistency with which Cook scores, realistically, he is the best bet to beat Tendulkar's record of most runs in Test history.

Cook made his Test debut in 2006 and it has taken him less than 11 years to reach where he is at the moment. That's less than half the length of Tendulkar's Test career. The Indian legend played a record 200 Test matches in that period, Cook has already featured in 134, and if he plays till the age of 40 then he is bound to surpass 200 Tests. On average, Cook plays a Test after every 29 days whereas Tendulkar was involved in a five-day match after every 47 days.



England's next assignment is a five-Test series in India. The last time Cook played here he scored 562 runs in four Tests at an average of 80.28 with three centuries and lead England to a 2-1 series victory as well. He loves to play against India and has scored 1735 runs in 20 Tests at an average of 54.21 with five tons and seven half-centuries to his name. 

In fact, he averages more than 50 against four other Test-playing nations - Bangladesh (52.12), Pakistan (50.06), Sri Lanka (53.75) and the West Indies (57.40). The fact that Cook is an opener obviously helps his cause, but that still doesn't take away the fact that Cook is one of the all-time greats. Given that he only plays Test cricket and has been scoring heavily in that format, except for the last two years, Cook has the best chance to scale the insurmountable peak which is currently owned by Tendulkar.

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