Dhawan or Kohli? Who is the best in ODIs?

For a few years now, we have seen Virat Kohli rack up the runs across formats and against all the oppositions in the world with utmost ease worldwide. Be it against England in England or in South Africa in South Africa, Kohli is one of the most consistent performers with the bat across the world. When it comes to ODIs, Kohli has already broken several records and will continue to do so in the future as well, however, we cannot completely ignore another batsman, who in every step of the way has been on par with Kohli and in a few areas has also bettered his records. That batsman is India opener, Shikhar Dhawan. Dhawan has played considerably lesser ODIs than Kohli, but if we do a comparison of Kohli’s records at the time when he played as many matches as Dhawan has played you will wonder as to why anybody barely mentions Dhawan in the same breath.

Kohli made his ODI debut against Sri Lanka at Dambulla in 2008, while his Delhi teammate had to wait two more years to make his debut. It eventually came in the year 2010 against Australia at Vishakapatnam. Since then Dhawan has been consistent with the bat and along with Rohit Sharma, he has taken India off to swift starts. He has scored 4,823 runs from 109 ODI innings (110 matches) at 46.82. Kohli played his 109th innings against Australia at Pune. He scored 61 in that innings and had accumulated 4,636 runs at the end of it. Dhawan is ahead at this point.

Dhawan scored his 15th ODI ton in the Asia Cup 2018 match against Pakistan in his 109th match for India. Interestingly, Kohli too reached this landmark in his 109th match for India – against Zimbabwe in 2013. If you dig a little deeper, you will find that Kohli has scored more runs than Dhawan since the latter’s debut. Since Dhawan’s debut on October 20, 2010, Kohli has scored 5,110 runs at 63.87, with the help of 20 centuries and 23 fifties, 287 runs ahead of Dhawan.

The table below indicates that Kohli and Dhawan reached the 1000-run mark in 24 innings, but when it came to reaching 2000 and 3000 runs, Dhawan was ahead. However, Kohli bounced back extremely well and reached the next 1000 runs in 18 runs, whereas Dhawan took another 23 innings to get to the landmark. Up to the 4000-run mark, it has either been Kohli or Dhawan who have reached to the milestone first from the Indian team. If Dhawan were to score another 177 runs in his next 5 innings, he will reach 5000 ODI runs in 114 innings, which is the same time it took Kohli to get there.

Innings taken to reach



1000 runs



2000 runs



3000 runs



4000 runs



5000 runs



Kohli’s prowess in ODI cricket is for the world to see as he is not far behind modern-day greats like Hashim Amla and some of the legends of the yesteryear like Viv Richards. Soon, we may see someone like Dhawan too rise in prominence and be considered worthwhile in mentioning his name along with such greats. Many to this day still think that it would be impossible to break Sachin Tendulkar’s record in Tests or ODIs. Kohli is challenging that thought every time he takes the field. Dhawan may not be an established Test cricketer for India, but if Kohli can dream of achieving that, so can Dhawan. It will all depend on for how long these two keep themselves fit and keep challenging each other. If Tendulkar’s record were to be broken, he would any day want an Indian to do that. Kohli, who is on the verge of completing 10000 ODI runs has certainly taken up this challenge head-on.

India have been excellent chasers in ODI cricket and one of the main reasons for their success has been the prolific run-getting from their captain. In a successful chase, Kohli’s average shoots up to a whopping 97.36, which includes 19 fifties and 19 tons. In comparison, Dhawan, though has an excellent record – Averaging 55.84 in a successful run chase – He is nowhere close to Kohli. Dhawan and Kohli, Along with Rohit Sharma are India’s backbone in the batting department and will be key for India in the upcoming ICC World Cup 2019.

Being an opener, one does not get a chance to bat through the innings. However, at 3, Kohli has often batted right till the end and steered India to big scores. Kohli has scored over 7,600 runs at 61.48 at No. 3 and has carried his bat till the end on 26 occasions from that position. Dhawan has remained unbeaten only 6 times in his entire career, out of which 5 have been in successful run chases, while one match was abandoned. Kohli, on the other hand, has been unbeaten just 7 times while batting first, but 28 times when India have batted second, further proving how much he loves to chase.


India is blessed to have two of the best cricketers in the world, batting in the first three spots. While Kohli, who many believe that has set the benchmark high, there is Dhawan, who has surpassed that or at least come tantalisingly close, which is no mean feat. Add Rohit in the equation and India will perhaps have the best top 3 batsmen in the world. The future of India’s batting is definitely bright.

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