A statistical look at India/Pakistan Test batting since the '70s

Mirpuri Don

Sep 5, 2022
I was having a discussion recently and thought that the 2010s Test batting for both India and Pakistan were probably the worst in decades.

It was more intuitive than factual so I thought why not look into statistics, which I did.

I began with the 70s simply because it was when Gavaskar established himself, and it also allows us to look at half a century (70s, 80s, 90s, 2000s and 2010s).

Of course, statistics never tell the whole story but there are still some lessons.

What I'll do is to look at each decade's top 10 runs scorers.

70s (7 Pakistanis / 3 Indians)


This decade is dominated by Gavaskar, who as compared to the second on the list, fellow Indian and future brother-in-law Viswanath, he has 1000 more runs (5600 VS 4600), nearly +10 average (55 VS 46) and more than double the centuries (22 VS 10) despite playing the same amount of innings.

From a purely statistical perspective, only the newcomer Miandad could wrestle him (as he'd do in the next decade).

If you go beyond statistics of course there's much to say, for instance how these numbers don't show Majid Khan's ability as an opening bat in the West Indies and Australia and their fearsome pace attack.

80s (5 Pakistanis / 5 Indians)


While he announced himself in the 70s, Miandad would definitly dominate in the 80s : he has 1000 more runs/nearly +10 average compared to the second and third best, including Gavaskar, but note that his differential in 100s is not the same as Gavaskar had with other batsmen in the 70s.

90s (5 Pakistanis / 5 Indians)


SRT dominates, as expected : has nearly 2000 more runs as compared to the second best, fellow Indian Azharuddin, but also a whooping 14 average difference and 8 more centuries, Azharuddin himself having 6 more centuries than the 3rd on the list, Inzamam ul Haq (but who also has nearly the double of 50s).

In terms of 50 average only others approaching it were Dravid and Ganguly, just announcing themselves.

SRT's dominance is unparalleled when compared to that of Gavaskar in the 70s and that of Miandad in the 80s (in ODIs you'll get the same, only Saeed Anwar approached him).

2000s (4 Pakistanis / 6 Indians)


This is considered the Indian Test batting's Golden Age, and you can see why : the Fab 4 have more or less the same numbers (Dravid doesn't "dominate", just has more innings than SRT). Indian fans often say that his ODI heroics and the captainly somehow shielded Ganguly's Test form and you can see why here.

2010s (5 Pakistanis / 5 Indians)


Kohli dominated, as expected : as compared to the second best, Azhar Ali, he has nearly 1500 more runs/+12 average/11 more centuries (and if we go "beyond the stats" we'll the quality of those in countries like Australia).

Apart from Kohli, only other bats who average are Younis/Misbah, who are not batsmen of the 2010s but of the 2000s, and SRT, who had good numbers despite having debuted +20 years ago (and if India played as much Tests in the 90s as it did in the 2000s/2010s then he'd have even more records).

Kohli is well ahead to the other "best 2010s" options offered by both India (Pujara/Rahane) and Pakistan (Azhar Ali/Asad Shafiq), but in terms of domination it's perhaps not the same as SRT of the 90s and Gavaskar of the 70s, who both had more competent Test batting rivals, but of course Kohli's domination is further cemented if you take into account the ODI format.