The next instalment in our series where we compare two legendary cricketers from the same generation. Rather than necessarily settle the debate on who is ‘better’, this series attempts to illustrate who had a greater say in dictating his team’s cricketing fortunes.

This week features our first comparison in T20 cricket. We pit two giants of the format – Chris Gayle and Virat Kohli.


Chris Gayle vs Virat Kohli

A batting comparison in T20 cricket


PARAMETER Chris Gayle Virat Kohli Maximum or
Highest (100%)
Number of matches 295 219 Kieron Pollard (372)
Runs scored 10137 6821 Chris Gayle (10137)
Batting Average 40.06 40.60 Virat Kohli (40.60)
Batting Strike Rate 148.92 132.39 C de Grandhomme (168.41)
Dot Ball Percentage (min. 1000 runs) 41.66% 32.5% Gordon Muchall (25%)
Boundary Percentage    22.89% 16.82% Alistair Brown (28.57%)
Number of 30+ scores 131 97 Chris Gayle (131)
Strike Rate in Powerplay 138 113 Alistair Brown (179)
Strike Rate in Death 211 193 Adam Gilchrist (241)
Runs in IPL 3626 4418 Suresh Raina (4540)
Average in IPL (min. 30 matches) 41.20 37.44 Chris Gayle (41.20)
Strike Rate in IPL (min. 30 matches) 151.20 129.82 Glenn Maxwell (164.39)
Runs in WT20 920 777 Mahela Jayawardene (1016)
Average in WT20 (min. 10 matches) 40 86.33 Virat Kohli (86.33)
Strike Rate in WT20 (min. 10 matches) 146.73 133.04 Darren Sammy (164.12)
Batting Impact 86 88 Imran Nazir
Runs Tally Impact 91 100 Virat Kohli
Strike Rate Impact  58 -32 Andre Russell
Pressure Impact  38 69 Misbah-ul-Haq
Chasing Impact  75 100 Virat Kohli
Failure Rate (in %)    45%  37% Virat Kohli (37%)
Tournament-Defining (TD) performances    3 1 Suresh Raina, Imran Nazir,
Kieron Pollard and Dwayne
Smith (5 each)
High impact performances  84  55 Chris Gayle (84)
Highest impact batsman in a match  65  27 Chris Gayle (65)
Batting Impact in Wins (min. 30 matches)  96  86 Michael Hussey
Batting Impact in T20Is (min. 20 matches)  76  100 Virat Kohli
Batting Impact in IPL (min. 30 matches)  90  80 Michael Hussey
Batting Impact in WT20 (min. 8 matches)  84  100 Virat Kohli

1) All parameters from ‘ Batting Impact ’ till ‘ Chasing Impact ’ and then from ‘ Batting Impact in Wins’ till ‘ Batting Impact in WT20’ are expressed on a scale of 0 to 100, with 100 being the maximum for any player in T20 history in that parameter. A player’s impact in a particular parameter is then expressed as a percentage of it.
Example: Andre Russell has the highest Strike Rate Impact in T20 cricket history. So he denotes 100. Chris Gayle’s and Virat Kohli’s Strike Rate Impact are, then, expressed as a percentage of Russell’s Strike Rate Impact .
2) From ‘Batting Average’ till ‘Strike Rate in Death’ and then from ‘ Batting Impact ’ till ‘Failure Rate’, a minimum of 60 matches is considered as qualification. For all other parameters, the qualification is mentioned alongside.

3) All numbers updated till May 14th, 2017.



While Chris Gayle is widely regarded as the greatest T20 batsman of all time and holds all the aggregate records in the format, his impact as a T20 batsman (domestic and international, combined) is marginally (2%) lower than Virat Kohli’s.
Overall, Kohli is the fifth-highest impact batsman in T20 cricket history (min. 60 matches) while Gayle comes in at number seven.


Gayle has a 17% higher impact than Kohli in domestic T20 cricket. In the IPL it is Gayle who has a 14% higher impact with the bat than Kohli whereas the latter’s impact is 32% higher when it comes to T20Is.
Not surprising then that Gayle is the highest impact batsman in RCB’s T20 history. Kohli comes at number three after him and AB de Villiers.


This is because of the different roles Kohli plays – for India he is the aggressor and the pivot around which the team revolves. For RCB, he plays the role of an accumulator and lets the likes of Gayle and AB de Villiers take the lead.
This also explains why Kohli with a healthy strike rate of approximately 133 in T20 cricket, has a negative Strike Rate Impact (which measures strike rate relative to the match standard) overall. While for India, Kohli plays at a strike rate much above the match norm, it is for RCB where his strike rate drops much below the match standard.


While Kohli has scored a higher proportion of runs for his team (taking match context into account) and is a better chaser (the best in T20 cricket history in these two parameters), it is Gayle who has a higher impact in wins and is a greater big-match batsman with three series-defining performances (although when compared to the overall world standards, Gayle’s record in big-matches is found wanting).


Kohli is also the more consistent batsman. In fact, he is the most consistent batsman in T20 cricket history (min. 60 matches).


Kohli’s Batting Impact has increased by a whopping 84% in the last 4 years while Gayle’s has dropped by 13%.



Gayle is considered to be the poster boy of T20 cricket with a style of batting tailor-made for the format. While his aggregate records suggest he is still the greatest T20 batsman of all time it is Kohli who has scored a higher proportion of team runs, is more consistent and turns out to be a higher impact batsman. It is also quite evident that while Kohli will continue to rise as a T20 batsman, Gayle is past his peak and is on the decline.




Nikhil Narain
Illustrations: Vasim Maner