T20 cricket is the most popular and exciting format of the game, attracting massive crowds and viewership all over the world.
In just two hours, a T20 match can provide unlimited entertainment through its fast-paced action, big hits, nail-biting finishes, and the star power of some of the biggest names in world cricket.
In this analysis, we take a statistical look at the top 5 contenders for the title of ‘God of T20 Cricket’ – Virat Kohli, Rashid Khan, AB de Villiers, Chris Gayle, and Rohit Sharma.
To choose these contenders, we considered their performances and achievements across T20 international matches, domestic T20 leagues like the IPL, BBL, PSL, etc., and other franchise and national T20 tournaments over the past decade.
Key criteria for comparison include runs scored, batting average, strike rate, centuries, half-centuries, sixes hit, wickets taken, economy rate, consistency, versatility, and impact on results.
A brief overview of each player’s T20 credentials is also provided to set the stage for a deeper statistical dive into their numbers and records.
The Indian captain is currently the highest run-scorer in T20 international cricket with 3159 runs in 108 innings at an outstanding average of 52.65.
What’s more impressive is his strike rate of 139.04, which is the second highest among all batsmen with over 1000 T20I runs.
This shows his ability to score runs at a quick pace without compromising his average.
Kohli is the only player to have scored five T20 centuries so far.
His highest score of 113 not out came against the West Indies in 2019.
In the Indian Premier League (IPL), he holds the record for most runs in a single season, aggregating 973 runs for Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) in 2016.
With 6076 runs in 229 IPL matches, he is currently the second-highest run-scorer in the tournament’s history.
Kohli’s consistency and big-match temperament make him the best finisher and chaser in T20 cricket.
He has scored 22 fifties while chasing targets in T20Is, with an outstanding average of 86.33 in successful run chases.
No other batsman comes close to these numbers in pressure situations.
At just 24, Rashid Khan has already established himself as the number one T20 bowler in the world according to the ICC rankings.
He is the leading wicket-taker for Afghanistan with 95 wickets in 61 matches, with an exceptional economy rate of just 6.14 runs per over.
Khan has transferred his international success to franchise cricket as well.
In 254 T20 matches across various leagues, he has picked up 360 wickets at an average of 17.19 with an economy of 6.5 runs per over.
His figures of 3/7 in the IPL are the best bowling figures in a single match in the tournament’s history.
With his sharp googlies, flippers, sliders, and accurate yorkers, Khan is a nightmare for batsmen in the middle overs.
He is consistently among the wickets while also maintaining a tight line and length to stem the flow of runs.
This dual ability to take wickets and apply the brakes makes him the most valuable player in T20 cricket according to CricViz’s MVP ratings.
AB de Villiers
AB de Villiers is widely regarded as one of the most innovative and versatile batsmen the game has seen.
In a T20 career spanning over 15 years, he has amassed 5,162 runs at a superb average of 37.24 with a jaw-dropping strike rate of 150.
De Villiers holds the record for the fastest 50 (16 balls), 100 (31 balls) and 150 (64 balls) in ODI cricket.
This shows his unique ability to switch gears and accelerate innings at will.
In the IPL, he has scored 3,162 runs at an average of 40.77 and a strike rate of 161.74 for Royal Challengers Bangalore.
Apart from his explosive batting, de Villiers was also a brilliant wicketkeeper and one of the best fielders of his generation.
This added value made him an asset for any T20 franchise. His versatility allowed him to bat anywhere in the order and play various match-winning roles.
Even in his mid-30s, de Villiers’ innovative stroke play and all-round skills made him a vital cog in South Africa’s T20 setup.
Chris Gayle is widely considered the most destructive batsman in T20 history.
He holds the record for the highest individual T20 score of 175* and has smashed a mind-boggling 10 centuries and over 1000 sixes in the format.
Gayle has scored 14,562 runs in 463 T20 matches at an average of 37.97, which is the highest tally by some distance.
Gayle played an instrumental role in the West Indies’ T20 World Cup triumphs in 2012 and 2016.
He also dominated the IPL for a decade, aggregating 4,965 runs in 142 matches at a strike rate of over 150.
Gayle’s ability to clear any ground with his monstrous hits made him a constant threat that had to be handled with extreme care.
Even in his 40s, Gayle continues to feature in T20 leagues around the world thanks to his big-hitting prowess.
He is arguably the most feared batsman in short-format history, capable of single-handedly winning matches with his explosive batting.
Rohit Sharma is the third-highest run-scorer in T20 international cricket with 3,853 runs from 148 matches at an average of 32.10.
More impressively, he is the only player to have scored four T20I centuries – the most by any batsman in this format so far.
Sharma also holds the record for most sixes (182) in T20I cricket.22 As captain of Mumbai Indians, he has led them to a record five IPL titles and scored 5,764 runs from 221 matches, the third highest in the tournament.
Rohit was part of the title-winning squad six times – five with Mumbai and once with Deccan Chargers in 2009.
With his effortless stroke-play, immaculate timing, and penchant for big innings, Rohit is arguably the most stylish batsman in T20 cricket today.
He scores quickly but also has the ability to anchor or accelerate innings depending on the situation. This versatility makes him invaluable to his national and IPL teams.
So, Who is the God of T20 Cricket?
They are all great T20 players, but who is the best of them all? Let’s find out.
First, let’s look at their batting stats in T20 internationals (T20Is):
|Player||Matches||Runs||Average||Strike Rate||100s||50s||Best Score|
|AB de Villiers||208||6173||37.37||135.51||2||42||133*|
Virat Kohli has scored runs at an outstanding average of 52.65 with a superb strike rate of 138.34.
His consistency and ability to anchor the innings makes him one of the best T20 batsmen ever.
Rashid Khan is primarily a bowler but has shown his batting abilities with an impressive strike rate of 125.44.
His role is usually to chip in with quick runs lower down the order.
AB de Villiers’ stats are simply mind-boggling with an average of 37.37 at a strike rate of 135.51. Very few players can dominate both pace and spin like he can.
Chris Gayle is the highest run scorer in T20 cricket thanks to his monster hits. His strike rate of 146.72 sets him apart. No ground is big enough when Gayle gets going.
Rohit Sharma too has been very effective at the top with an average close to 32 at a strike rate of 137. His four centuries show his ability to play big innings.
Based on these stats, I would say AB de Villiers has had the most well-rounded T20 career given his outstanding average and strike rate over so many matches. Kohli and Gayle are not far behind though in terms of dominance.
Now, let’s look at their bowling stats in T20Is:
|AB de Villiers||78||7||36.28||8.12||26.7||0||0||2/14|
Here, we can see that Rashid Khan is the clear winner among the five players. He is the second-highest wicket-taker in T20Is, with 126 wickets in 77 matches. He has an amazing average of 12.62, an economy of 6.14, and a strike rate of 12.3. He also has four four-wicket hauls and two five-wicket hauls in T20Is, including the best figures of 5/3 against Ireland in 2019.
Virat Kohli, AB de Villiers, and Rohit Sharma are not regular bowlers in T20Is, and their stats reflect that. They have very few wickets, high averages, high economies, and high strike rates. They are mainly used as part-time bowlers or fillers in T20Is.
Chris Gayle is a bit of a surprise here, as he has 17 wickets in T20Is, with a decent average of 22.52, an economy of 7.31, and a strike rate of 18.4. He is an occasional off-spinner who can bowl a few overs in the middle or at the end of the innings. He is not a regular bowler, but he can be handy at times.
Finally, let’s look at their fielding stats in T20Is:
|AB de Villiers||78||65|
Here, we can see that AB de Villiers is the best fielder among the five players. He has taken 65 catches and made seven stumpings in T20Is, as he has kept wickets in some matches. He is also a brilliant outfielder who can save runs and take spectacular catches.
Rohit Sharma is the second-best fielder among the five players, with 60 catches in T20Is. He is a safe and agile fielder who can field at any position.
Virat Kohli is the third-best fielder among the five players, with 41 catches in T20Is. He is a dynamic and energetic fielder who can lead by example in the field.
Rashid Khan is the fourth-best fielder among the five players, with 24 catches in T20Is. He is a livewire in the field who can also bowl well.
Chris Gayle is the worst fielder among the five players, with only 17 catches in T20Is. He is a slow and lazy fielder who often fields at the boundary or in the slips.
Considering statistics both Rohit Sharma and Chris Gayle are among the best T20 players in the world. What I can do is present some statistics and facts that support or challenge their claims to the title, and let you decide for yourself.
Why Chris Gayle is God of T20 cricket format over Rohit Sharma:
- Chris Gayle has scored the most runs in T20 cricket, with 13,296 runs in 430 matches, at an average of 38.20 and a strike rate of 146.94. Rohit Sharma has scored 8,642 runs in 364 matches, at an average of 32.24 and a strike rate of 133.71.
- Chris Gayle has scored the most hundreds in T20 cricket, with 22 centuries, 14 more than the next best. He also has the highest score in T20 cricket, with 175 not out against Pune Warriors in the 2013 IPL. Rohit Sharma has scored six hundreds in T20 cricket, four of them in T20Is. His highest score is 118 against Sri Lanka in 2017.
- Chris Gayle has hit the most sixes in T20 cricket, with 1,000 sixes, nearly 500 more than the next best. He also has the fastest hundred in T20 cricket, off 30 balls against Pune Warriors in 2013. Rohit Sharma has hit 502 sixes in T20 cricket, the second-most among active players. His fastest hundred is off 35 balls against Sri Lanka in 2017.
- Chris Gayle is the first player to score a century in T20Is, and he has two of them. He also has the highest strike rate in T20 World Cups, with 170.33 in 28 matches. Rohit Sharma is the first player to score four centuries in T20Is, but he has a lower strike rate of 138.96 in T20 World Cups, in 37 matches.
Why Rohit Sharma is God of T20 cricket format over Chris Gayle:
- Rohit Sharma is the most successful captain in the IPL, leading Mumbai Indians to five titles, and winning six in total. He is also the third-highest run-getter in the IPL, with 5,944 runs in 213 matches, at an average of 31.47 and a strike rate of 130.82. Chris Gayle has played for four IPL teams, but has never won the title. He is the sixth-highest run-getter in the IPL, with 4,948 runs in 140 matches, at an average of 40.72 and a strike rate of 150.11.
- Rohit Sharma is the leading run-scorer in T20Is, with 2,773 runs in 115 matches, at an average of 32.19 and a strike rate of 138.96. He also has the most hundreds in T20Is, with four, and the most fifties, with 25. Chris Gayle has scored 1,627 runs in 58 T20Is, at an average of 32.54 and a strike rate of 142.84. He has two hundreds and 13 fifties in T20Is.
- Rohit Sharma is a more consistent and versatile batsman than Chris Gayle, who relies more on power and aggression. Rohit Sharma can play a variety of shots and adapt to different situations and conditions. He can also bat at different positions, having opened and batted in the middle order in T20 cricket. Chris Gayle is mainly an opener who plays in one gear, and struggles against quality spin and swing bowling.
- Rohit Sharma is a better fielder and a more useful bowler than Chris Gayle, who is a slow and lazy fielder and an occasional off-spinner. Rohit Sharma is a safe and agile fielder who can field at any position. He also has a hat-trick in the IPL, though he has not bowled much in recent years. Chris Gayle often fields at the boundary or in the slips, and rarely bowls in T20 cricket.
Considering only explosiveness and pure on field performance based stats we can safely conclude Chris Gayle is the self-proclaimed Universe Boss of T20 cricket, and he has the stats to back it up. He is a destructive opener who can change the course of a match in a few overs. He has won two T20 World Cups with West Indies, and has played in various T20 leagues around the world.