If there is one man in this world who is challenging Virat Kohli's supremacy in batting, it is Australia's Steve Smith. The former Australian skipper made a resounding comeback to Test cricket by scoring a mountain of runs in the 2019 Ashes series. In Test cricket, it can be said with some confidence that he is the best Test batsman in the world.
However, when it comes to batting in the ODI's, nobody even remotely comes close to Virat Kohli. The form that the Indian captain has shown in limited-overs formats over the last 2-3 years is hard to believe. These days, he is scoring centuries for fun and looks as invincible as any batsman has done in ODI cricket for a long, long time. Does the Australian batter have any chance of matching Kohli?
Now, the kind of personality Steve Smith possesses would mean that he is not going to rest on his laurels but instead try and better his game in all formats – especially in ODIs and T20Is. The innings that Smith played against Pakistan in the second T20I showed that even when it comes to batting in coloured clothing, he can be every bit as effective as in Tests.
Smith's unique style of batting gives him multiple options for scoring and the ability to hit the ball in areas where other batsmen can't. A shot that he played in the T20I against Pakistan reflects this speciality of his batting. This shot was supposed to be a glide over the wicketkeeper's head. But the bouncer that Smith got was a slower delivery, hence it came on to the bat very late.
So, what did Smith do? He still managed to get the ball to the boundary by hitting it with the edge of the bat and providing a little more power to it than he would have needed if it was a normal bouncer. The ball went towards a very straight fine leg for another boundary. Smith accepted that it was a lucky shot but still, the way he adjusted at the last moment is very special.
After the game, the right-hander talked about improving his record in T20s. "If you look at my batting record in T20 internationals, it's not crash hot...I guess you have to bear in mind, I was batting at no. 8 or 6 (at the start of my career), coming in and slogging, facing half a dozen balls tops. It's never easy, so it's going to affect your record at some point."
He further added: "I don't doubt my ability. I know the tempos of the game. I've played a lot of cricket now. I may not be as strong as some of the other guys, but I use placement and timing."
What this means simply is that the 30-year old is very serious about increasing his output in T20I cricket. It is very reasonable to assume that he would have similar ideas about 50-over cricket also. And we now know for sure that when Smith sets his mind to something, he usually achieves it.
Currently, Smith's record in ODIs is: 118 matches, 3810 runs at an average of 41.4 with 8 centuries. He would definitely like to become more prolific with his hundred-making. Who would dare to bet against him doing so? Therefore, we are likely to see Smith getting more hundreds in ODI cricket. His batting in the World Cup was indeed very impressive.
So, Virat Kohli needs to watch out for Smith. Kohli has played much more ODI cricket and has a near-invincible record. But if one man can match his prolificacy, it is Smith. Maybe, we are going to see a contest for the top position among ODI batsmen between these two in the future. That is a mouth-watering idea.