Tale of two captains

Steve Smith has been prolific for Australia, especially since he has taken over to lead the side. Smith’s 10th century as captain — in the second innings of the first Test in Pune — arrived in his 21st Test. In comparison, Virat Kohli is one short of that mark, having completed 24 Tests in that role.

Virat Kohli and Steve Smith... top batsmen, top captains.   -  AP

The responsibility of captaincy can burden some players; one of the reasons why Alastair Cook stepped down as England captain was because he wanted to focus on batting alone. But Steve Smith and Virat Kohli seem to thrive in that role. Both possessing similar batting statistics, Kohli’s impressive numbers since graduating to captaincy are eclipsed by Smith’s.

Smith has been prolific for Australia, especially since he has taken over to lead the side. Smith’s 10th century as captain — in the second innings of the first Test in Pune — arrived in his 21st Test. In comparison, Kohli is one short of that mark, having completed 24 Tests in that role.

Smith is particularly ominous at home, with eight centuries and eight half-centuries against a variety of opposition attacks. But he has also excelled abroad, with his latest century on a turning track and against world-class spinners — conditions far from familiar for him — providing a stamp of sorts of his ability to conquer batting challenges of all kinds. He had also scored a century in Sri Lanka in an otherwise insipid tour for his team.

Smith has scored a century in each of his series as captain, barring the one against South Africa last year, which yielded knocks of 34, 48 not out, 31, 59 and 40.

Kohli has also scored at least a century in each of his series as captain, the only exception being the one involving South Africa. But unlike Smith, Kohli has double-centuries in each of his last four series.

Smith averages 73.37 as captain; Kohli averages 63.94. The third in the league of promising-batsmen-turned-captains, Kane Williamson of New Zealand, averages 55 in 10 Tests as captain, with two centuries and six half-centuries.

Smith had the better of Kohli in the Pune Test, not just in terms of his team’s performance, as Kohli was dismissed cheaply in both innings whereas Smith scored a valuable hundred. Given Kohli’s commanding stature at home, he will be raring to bounce back.