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ODI GOAT: Kohli v Pietersen

Two superstar batsmen clash in our round of 64 - who gets your vote?

The #ODIGOAT is cricket.com.au's knockout competition to determine the greatest ODI player of all time. We've selected our top 64 ODI players and now we're asking YOU to do the hard work – that is, narrow it down to one. Set up in much the same way as a tennis tournament, each day you'll see head-to-head match-ups, with the winner of those progressing to the next round to square off with their next challenger. From 64, we'll go to 32, to 16, 8, 4 and ultimately our final. So cast your VOTE and decide just who is the greatest ODI player in history!

VIRAT KOHLI (INDIA)

The numbers: Matches: 171 | Runs: 7,212 | Average: 51.51 | SR: 89.97 | 100s: 25 | HS: 183

WATCH: Kohli slams ODI ton No.25

Why he makes the list: At 27, Virat Kohli might already be the best batsman ever in ODI cricket. His technique is flawless. His mindset is unforgiving. His numbers are mind-boggling. In what may be deemed as blasphemy by Australian readers, Kohli is even better than Michael Bevan in a run chase. Settle down, settle down. Hear us out. Kohli has 15 centuries in 91 innings batting second, two less than record-holder Sachin Tendulkar with 17 in 232 innings, and 12 more than Bevan's three in 81. In games where India has won batting second, Kohli averages 84, has 13 tons in 57 knocks and was not out 18 times (yes, Bevo averaged 86). Kohli averages 50 or more against seven Test-playing nations and no less than 38. It's a stunning record which gets better every time you look at it.

Performance we loved: This 2012 innings has been relatively forgotten, but it's still one of the most mind-bending run-chases in history. Needing to win inside 40 overs to secure a bonus point and keep their tournament alive, India were set an unfathomable 321 to win by Sri Lanka after centuries to Tillakaratne Dilshan and Kumar Sangakkara. The few thousand in attendance at Hobart's Blundstone Arena were treated to perhaps the best run chase of all time, as Kohli bossed 133 from only 86 balls to steer India to victory in the 37th over. It started a chain reaction for the dashing right-hander who scored three centuries and a 66 in his next four innings. 

KEVIN PIETERSEN (ENGLAND)

The numbers: Matches: 136 | Runs: 4,440 | Average: 40.73 | SR: 85.58 | 100s: 9 | HS: 130

WATCH: KP slams rapid half-century

Why he makes the list: Is he controversial? Yes. Does he put his foot in his mouth? Occasionally. Is he a brilliant batsman? Absolutely. Say what you will about Kevin Pietersen, but whenever he was listed on a team sheet he was automatically the No.1 threat for the opposition. Born and raised in South Africa, he left for England in opposition of the racial quota system in South African cricket to begin a career for the Three Lions. After he served the four-year qualifying period he was thrust into England colours and sent back to Africa to make his ODI debut against Zimbabwe, and then South Africa. Pietersen was outrageous against the Proteas, scoring three centuries in six innings and averaging 151 in the series. He averaged no less than 42 in his first five calendar years as an ODI batsman – the crowning moment a World Cup ton against Australia in 2007 which felt as inevitable as an Australian win. Form, injury and unrest troubled KP in the second half of his career, but he roared back with two tons in 2012 opening the batting against Saeed Ajmal's Pakistan. A tall, elegant and at times brutal batsman, Pietersen brought us the 'flamingo', a rare talent and endless entertainment.

Performance we loved: Pietersen's 69-ball 100no, in February 2005 against the Proteas, in only his eighth innings was the fastest ODI by an Englishman. Ever. In East London, a venue almost too perfect for Pietersen's homecoming series, England were set 312 to win from 50 overs. Captain Michael Vaughan held the innings together with 70, but the run rate kept getting away from England when KP arrived needing 195 in just under 24 overs. He reached his 50 from 38 balls, but with 10 overs remaining England required 98 to win. Pietersen accounted for 37 of them from the 25 balls he faced, unable to find the boundary or hog the strike. Entering the last over with 23 needed, KP hit a six off the last ball to reach triple-figures, but he fell short of guiding England to an improbable win. Despite the loss, his skill and flair for batting was on show in spectacular fashion.

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#ODIGOAT First Round: M. Waugh v Jayasuriya

#ODIGOAT First Round: De Villiers v Boucher

#ODIGOAT First Round: Lara v Amla

#ODIGOAT First Round: Gilchrist v McCullum

#ODIGOAT First Round: Gayle v Haynes

#ODIGOAT First Round: McGrath v Pollock

#ODIGOAT First Round: Anwar v Ganguly

#ODIGOAT First Round: Sehwag v Greenidge

#ODIGOAT First Round: Ponting v Gibbs

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#ODIGOAT First Round: Inzamam v Kallis

#ODIGOAT First Round: Murali v Hogg

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CATO Sri Lanka

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