Clarke gives his verdict on world's best

Ex-Aussie skipper picks Smith as leading Test batsman and selects Kohli as superior ODI player

Michael Clarke has declared India firebrand Virat Kohli a superior batsman to Australia captain Steve Smith in the one-day international format.

But the former skipper insisted Smith held the edge in the Test arena as the two teams prepare for the start of their five-match ODI series, which begins on Sunday.

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"In limited-overs cricket, I think Virat is ahead of Steve, but just by that much. Smith, I believe, is a better Test batsman," Clarke told reporters in India.

"I think over the next few days, everybody would want to speak about Steve Smith vs Virat Kohli but at the end of the day, it comes down to one thing, and that is the team that wins. 

"It doesn't matter who makes the runs – Kohli or Smith. At the end of the day, your job as a captain is to win.”

Kohli sits No.1 in the ICC ODI and Twenty20 batting rankings, while Smith tops the Test rankings.

Smith, who has been in charge of Australia’s Test side fulltime since summer 2015-16, boasts a remarkable average of 59.66 from 56 Tests since his debut seven years ago.

At 28, he has 20 tons and 21 half-centuries to his name – underlining both his unquestionable consistency and ability to convert starts into big scores.

Since taking over the captaincy, Smith has punched out 2,418 Test runs at 67.16, including 10 centuries.

He is the world’s second highest run-scorer during that period, narrowly behind Root (2,607), who has played 29 matches compared to Smith’s 24.

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Kohli has 2,097 runs at 55.18 from 26 appearances through the same period, which has lifted his overall Test average to 49.55, leaving him in sixth spot on the rankings, with Root, Williamson, Cheteshwar Pujara and David Warner sitting between the star pair.

However, the India skipper is the undisputed king of the 50-over format, passing three figures 30 times from 194 matches to go with 44 half-centuries.

He has an average of 55.75 and a strike rate of 91.72 and, at 28, Kohli has plenty of time to shatter records.

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Kohli's 30th ton, an unbeaten 110 against Sri Lanka in Colombo earlier this month, drew him level with Ricky Ponting as the second-most prolific century-maker in ODI history. 

Incredibly it took Kohli (186 innings) roughly half the number of innings as Ponting (365) to reach the mark.

It means the once unthinkable prospect of Sachin Tendulkar's mark of 49 ODI centuries being surpassed is a genuine possibility.

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"The great man is quite a bit away," Kohli said earlier this month. 

"That's going to take a hell of an effort.

"Again, I am not thinking about that. It's only about the team where even if I score a 90 not out and the team goes across the line, it's good enough for me.

"It's an honour for me to equal someone like Ricky Ponting. That's not something that you aim for but obviously he's a great player and as batsmen we all respect what these legends have done."

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Smith has eight centuries from 98 ODIs at an average of 44.26 and is ranked 13th in the world.

Kohli also has a superior record in T20 cricket, averaging 53.82, which puts him a long way ahead of Root (40.33), who occupies the No.2 position on the list of averages.

Smith has 431 runs from 30 games at 21.55, with a best score of 90.

Australia will play three T20 fixtures against India next month following the conclusion of their ODI series.

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Australia's Qantas Tour of India

Australia ODI squad: Steve Smith (c), David Warner, Ashton Agar, Hilton Cartwright, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Patrick Cummins, James Faulkner, Aaron Finch, Travis Head, Glenn Maxwell, Kane Richardson, Marcus Stoinis, Matthew Wade, Adam Zampa.

Australia T20 squad: Steve Smith (c), David Warner, Jason Behrendorff, Dan Christian, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Patrick Cummins, Aaron Finch, Travis Head, Moises Henriques, Glenn Maxwell, Tim Paine, Kane Richardson, Adam Zampa.

India squad (first three ODIs): Virat Kohli (c), Rohit Sharma (vc), Shikhar Dhawan, KL Rahul, Manish Pandey, Kedar Jadhav, Ajinkya Rahane, MS Dhoni (wk), Hardik Pandya, Axar Patel, Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Jasprit Bumrah, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Umesh Yadav, Mohammed Shami.

ODI Fixtures

September 17: MA Chidambaram Stadium, Chennai

September 21: Eden Gardens, Kolkata

September 24: Holkar Cricket Stadium, Indore

September 28: M Chinnaswamy Stadium, Bengaluru

October 1: VCA Stadium, Nagpur

T20 Fixtures

October 7: JSCA International Stadium, Ranchi

October 10: Barsapara Stadium, Guwahati

October 13: Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium, Hyderabad