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  5. Virat Kohli and Cheteshwar Pujara are good but not as great as Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid, just yet!

Virat Kohli and Cheteshwar Pujara are good but not as great as Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid, just yet!

No matter how much we rave about Kohli and Pujara, they still have a long way to go before being considered amongst the greatest Test batsmen of all time.

Ajay Shankar Tiwari Ajay Shankar Tiwari @ballabaaz
New Delhi Published on: February 02, 2019 15:55 IST
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Fab Two: India's Nos.3 and 4 across two decades.

The Indian team recently made history by winning their maiden Test series 2-1 in Australia, since they first toured the country in 1947-48. The victory was headlined by an all-round team performance with the batsmen and bowlers rising to the occasion, winning the key moments and showing not just varied skills but also the determination to fight it out in the game's richest format.

The tour brought a joyous end to the nation's year-long struggle under difficult conditions overseas, that included journeys to South Africa, England and Australia. The fact that India were able to win four away Tests on the three continents was testament to a gradually maturing side and the Test No. 1 status that it enjoys currently.

While ICC Cricketer of the Year 2018 and Indian captain Virat Kohli was phenomenal as always, Test specialist Cheteshwar Pujara's contribution to the results can't be overstated enough. It finally seems that India have got a really good Test team and the gaping holes left by the Fab Four are now being fulfilled by the current crop of batsmen.

Even though Kohli and Pujara have been considered great Test batsmen for a while now, it is their ability to perform outside Asia that has finally made all the accolades sound true than ever. No matter how many runs a batsman scores, they are always judged by what they did (or the lack of it) away from home. The SENA (South Africa, England, New Zealand and Australia) countries have long been considered an Achilles' heel for Asian batsmen but the reverse is also true. Batsmen from outside Asia also have always found it difficult to negotiate the hot and humid conditions of the continent on top of the slow and spinning pitches normally found in India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, UAE and Sri Lanka. That is the precise reason that England hold so dear their recent 3-0 win in Sri Lanka and the 2-1 victory in India in 2012. It's not without reason that Steve Waugh called the famous Indian tour of 2001, 'the final frontier'.

This begs the question as to which batsmen in history have made alien conditions their own and found the most success away from home. There is a rider here: it is never a great idea to compare batsmen across generations. But when we look at the numbers what emerges is the fact that no matter how much we rave about Kohli and Pujara, they still have a long way to go before being considered amongst the greatest Test batsmen of all time.

ASIANS OUTSIDE ASIA:

Most runs -

India Tv - Most runs by Asians in non-Asian countries.

Image Source : INDIATV

Most runs by Asians in non-Asian countries.

Highest Averages* -

India Tv - Highest averages for Asians outside the continent.

Image Source : INDIATV

Highest averages for Asians outside the continent.

While Kohli manages to find himself in the top-ten of both the runs and averages list, the likes of Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane are far below the pecking order. It is no surprise to see Indian greats Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar and Sunil Gavaskar rule the lists with their phenomenal numbers.

It is clear from the above list that the Kohli and Pujara have a long way to go before overcoming the all-time Asian run-getters away from home. But it goes without saying that they have played far less number of matches than some of the game's greatest and their biggest challenges and riches might lie in the future. One thing is clear: the batsmen who do well away from home are also the ones most adored back home.

NON-ASIANS IN ASIA:

Most runs - 

India Tv - Most runs by Non-Asians in Asia.

Image Source : INDIATV

Most runs by Non-Asians in Asia.

Highest Averages* -

India Tv - Highest averages for non-Asians in Asia.

Image Source : INDIATV

Highest averages for non-Asians in Asia.

No surprises here as English great Cook who retired last year sits at the top of the run-charts. His 562 runs in the 2012 series in India made him an instant legend of the game. On the other hand, arguably the best all-rounder to have played the game, incidentally also had the highest average in Asia when his team was one of the great forces in world cricket.
 
The tables are also indicative of the fact that though a lot is said about Asian batsmen finding it difficult overseas, for non-Asians coming to the continent, it's not easy as well. Though what is curious about these numbers is that there is only 1 current Asian player who finds a place in the first two lists while 2 non-Asians are placed in the other two. Amongst all the talk of cash-rich leagues and T20 ruling cricket all over the world, there couldn't be a better advert for the declining standards of Test batting. It should suffice to say that the batsmen need to pull up their socks.
 
*A cut-off of minimum 10 Tests played has been used for compiling the averages list.

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