India’s Virat Kohli has scored his 49th one-day international (ODI) hundred to equal compatriot Sachin Tendulkar’s world record.
Kohli completed the feat in the ICC Cricket World Cup match against South Africa in Kolkata on Sunday.
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The former India captain, who turned 35 on the day of his record-equalling century, has scored more than 13,000 runs in the format. He reached the landmark in 277 ODI innings, which also include 70 half-centuries.
The next batter on the list of most ODI centuries is current captain Rohit Sharma, who has scored 31 centuries.
Kohli was the leading run-scorer for India as they set South Africa a target of 327 runs in the top-of-the-table clash. He scored 101 runs from 127 balls and hit 10 fours in a hard-fought innings on a turning pitch and in hot weather.
The spectators in Eden Gardens rose to their feet when Kohli passed 90 runs and cheered every run thereon. As he took strike on 99, the mostly Indian crowd roared with delight and thousands of cameras flashed to record the iconic moment.
Greatness meets greatness 🤝
— ICC (@ICC) November 5, 2023
‘Stuff of dreams’
Kohli said it was “hard to get hold of the bowlers” on the spin-friendly track in Kolkata but knew he had to take his team through until the end.
“When you have lost two wickets and don’t have [the injured all-rounder] Hardik Pandya in the team then you have to bat to a certain stage,” he told the host broadcasters after India’s innings.
The Delhi-born player said he was delighted to complete the hundred on his birthday.
“Every opportunity to play for India is a big one for me and to do this on my birthday – in front of a home crowd – is the stuff of dreams!”
Kohli ‘writes his own scripts’
Tendulkar, who is the leading run-scorer in the ODI format, congratulated Kohli and said he wants his compatriot to break the record “in the next few days”.
— Sachin Tendulkar (@sachin_rt) November 5, 2023
As Kohli pushed a ball from South Africa’s Kagiso Rabada through the covers to complete his 100th run, cricket writer and commentator said Kohli “writes his own scripts” as he reached the landmark on his birthday and during his team’s undefeated march in their home World Cup.
Former West Indies bowler led the tributes on social media, saying both Indian batters were “two greats of the game”.
Legacy cemented: Century No 49 on his 35th birthday for Virat Kohli to draw level with the great Sachin Tendulkar. Two greats of the game 🐐 🐐.
— Ian Raphael Bishop (@irbishi) November 5, 2023
Kohli ‘focused’ on winning the World Cup
Earlier, India’s coach Rahul Dravid insisted Kohli is “really focused” on winning the World Cup rather than any looming personal and professional landmarks.
Kohli had almost equalled the record while making 88 against Sri Lanka.
“I think Virat’s been really relaxed and as you can see in his performances, batting really well for us,” Dravid told a pre-match news conference on Saturday.
“I haven’t noticed anything different. He’s always been the same. He’s always been professional, always been hard-working, always been switched on.”
Dravid was cautious when it was suggested that this match could be a dress rehearsal for the November 19 final in Ahmedabad.