When Virat Kohli finally hit a six off Bangladesh bowler Nasum Ahmed to complete his 48th one-day-international (ODI) hundred, the crowd at Pune’s MCA stadium erupted in a joyous roar.
Kohli finished his unbeaten innings with 103 runs from 97 balls in India’s seven-wicket win over Bangladesh, their fourth consecutive of the tournament, on Thursday
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Meanwhile on social media, cricket fans and experts weighed in on the manner in which the last few balls of India’s innings panned out.
Once the former India captain had reached 81, he turned down at least five singles and his batting partner Rahul later explained why.
“He (Kohli) was confused, he said, ‘It’ll not look too nice not to take the single, it’s still a World Cup, and it’s still a big stage. I don’t want to look like I am just trying to get the milestone,'” Rahul told the tournament broadcaster.
“But I said, I mean it is not won but still I think we’ll win quite easily, so if you can get to the milestone why not, you must try. And he did that in the end. I wasn’t going to run the singles anyway.”
Rahul scored 34 runs and remained unbeaten as well.
‘It raises integrity issues’
One of the bigger sticking points was when – with India two runs short of the target of 257 and Kohli on 97 – Ahmed fired a ball that went wide down Kohli’s leg side but umpire Richard Kettleborough did not signal a wide.
Some comments on X, formerly Twitter, suggested that the umpire was “in on the charade”.
“A stone cold wide down the leg side is not given by the on field umpire, who then smirks,” cricket writer Peter Della Penna wrote in a post.
“If Kohli wants to turn down singles in pursuit of a century, so be it, but it raises integrity issues when an umpire refuses to call a blatantly obvious leg side wide in order to assist Kohli in his personal escapade.”
If Kohli is turning down singles with 7 wickets in hand and 10 overs left purely so he can get a century, I'd bowl 5 wides down the leg side if I'm a Bangladesh bowler. No more nonsense from any cricketer big or small about "I play for the team."
— Peter Della Penna (@PeterDellaPenna) October 19, 2023
One sarcastic comment termed the race between Kohli’s century and India’s target “the first close game of this World Cup”.
Others said Kohli was well within his rights to pace the innings as he liked as “India were never going to lose”.
Completely disagree with this.
1. India were never going to lose. 2. It’s extremely unlikely they’ll need NRR to separate themselves from other teams in the table.
3. The century made his fans happy.
4. Round numbers are cool and universally praised.
— Dan Liebke (@LiebCricket) October 20, 2023
‘That guy is from a different planet’
However, former Pakistan bowler Wasim Akram heaped praises on Kohli for switching gears with ease as he neared his first ton of this World Cup and third in all World Cup matches.
“They [Kohli and Rahul] were enjoying batting, toying with the bowlers with at a healthy run rate,” Akram said on a post-match television show when asked about the criticism aimed at Kohli.
“He [Kohli] was running quick doubles when he was in his 80s and 90s, despite having fielded for 50 overs, which is unbelievable,” Akram said.
“That guy is from a different planet.”
The 34-year-old’s last century in the Cricket World Cup came against Pakistan in 2015, but former India batter Mohammad Kaif said Kohli was an expert in “the art of run-making in ODIs.”
When Virat Kohli wants a 100, he gets it. So what if India needed just 169 to win when he came out to bat. Few understand the art of run-making in ODIs like him. @imVkohli #ViratKohli pic.twitter.com/L0X5lgITPy
— Mohammad Kaif (@MohammadKaif) October 20, 2023
The star batter is now one behind his compatriot and idol’s world record of 49 ODI centuries.
“I wanted to make a big contribution today,” Kohli said after the match.
“I have a few half-centuries in World Cups but didn’t convert them. I wanted to finish off things today and stay till the end.”
Kohli said it was a “special feeling” to play the tournament at home.
India are second on the points table as they trail leaders New Zealand on net run rate.
The two teams will face each other in Dharamsala on Sunday.
— Suresh Raina🇮🇳 (@ImRaina) October 19, 2023