Virat Kohli or Michael Bevan... Who really is the King of the chase?
We take a closer look at two masters of the second innings in ODI's.
There is a very strong rumour in cricket that Virat Kohli is the 'King' of the ODI run chase. There have been some great ODI batsmen before, Sir Vivian Richards, ABD, Sachin... but nobody chases as well as ‘King Kohli’. The question is... have we simply forgotten what Michael Bevan did?
Comparing Virat Kohli and Michael Bevan as chasers is not an easy thing to do. Their roles as chasers have generally been different due to where they have batted in the order. But like most things in life, where there is a will, there is a way. So let's have a look into their careers.
Virat Kohli has some extremely impressive returns when chasing. 21 of this 35 centuries have come batting second. 19 of those 21 have resulted in India wins. He has an incredible average of 67.90 when chasing targets.
Kohli, once set, becomes extremely hard to remove. The longer he stays at the crease, the quicker he scores. There are less risks taken than other players cause he relies on something quite old fashion but still very useful, quality cricket shots. As the opposition run out of ideas on what to do, it coincides with an increase in his own momentum. It often results in a hundred for him and a win for his nation.
Kohli has become great at making sure when he is in peak form, he hasn’t missed out. In 2012, on the back of an incredible century against Sri Lanka in Hobart, he made 4 centuries in 5 matches. Recently his 5 centuries in 9 matches has taken him on the precipice of 10,000 ODI runs. All before he turns the big 3-0.
Michael Bevan was similar in terms of minimizing his risks. But unlike Kohli who simply hits the ball harder, Bevan would rely on placement as his main weapon. Although he could clear the fence, his main method of attack came down to knowing where fielders were and hitting into the gaps. Combined with being extremely quick between wickets, and a good judge of a run, Bevan would get Australia home time and again whilst chasing a score.
What Bevan did, was more chip away at a score, and aim to finish it all with perfect timing, often in the final over of the match. He rescued Australia time and again with his method. Against the West Indies on New Years day in 1996 Australia were 6/38 chasing 172 for victory when his 78* got them home on the final ball.
When Australia were 6/82 facing elimination in the domestic one day tri-series in 2002, Bevan made 102* to chase down New Zealands 245. The winning runs coming with 3 balls to spare.
In the 2003 World Cup, Australia were 8/135 chasing 205 against England. With help from Andy Bichel, his 74* helped keep Australia unbeaten in that world cup, as they chased down England's score with 2 balls left.
Chasing totals Michael Bevan finished with the impressive average of 56.50, up on his 53.58 overall.
A look at their big match form doesn’t reveal as much on Bevan as it does for Kohli.
Kohli's form in final's chasing is down significantly on his overall performances. He made 35 in the World Cup final in 2011, 1 in the World Cup semi final in 2015 and 5 in the ICC Champions trophy loss to Pakistan in 2017. Certainly something he would like to improve upon the next time India have an international trophy to play for.
Michael Bevan played in 3 world cups, but Australia chased down the runs before he got his turn in two of them. In 1996, when Australia batted first against Sri Lanka, he made 36*
Is Virat Kohli the undisputed 'King of the Chase' or is there a bit more work still for Kohli to do before he is the best there has been?
It may just not be as clear cut as it seems.