Published: November 5, 2023, 08:05 PM
India`s Virat Kohli equalled Sachin Tendulkar`s record of 49 one-day international hundreds when he reached three figures in a World Cup pool match against fellow semi-finalists South Africa on Sunday.
Kohli, on his 35th birthday, got to the landmark in 119 balls, including 10 fours, at Kolkata`s Eden Gardens.
It had taken him 277 innings to score 49 hundreds at this level compared to the 438 required by fellow India 2011 World Cup-winner Tendulkar.
"Every opportunity to play for India is a big one, to be able to ton up on my birthday is a stuff of dreams," said Kohli whose century added to his ongoing total of over 26,000 international runs.
Kohli`s 101 not out was the centrepiece of unbeaten tournament hosts India`s 326-5 in their 50 overs.
"It is something you dream about as a child. I am just happy to help the team as much as possible," added Kohli.
Together with Shreyas Iyer (77) he shared a third-wicket partnership of 134 after India captain Rohit Sharma had won the toss on what turned out to be a tricky pitch.
"It was a wicket that was tricky to bat on. We got a great start. My job was to keep the momentum going when I got in," added Kohli.
- `Bat deep` -
"But after ten overs, the ball started gripping and the wicket started slowing down. My role was to bat deep and till the end after the openers fell."
He added: "Shreyas starting hitting well as well. We were not thinking we would get to 326 but that`s what happens when you dig deep and take the game into the last few overs."
Tendulkar led the tributes to Kohli, the retired India great writing on X, formerly Twitter: "Well played Virat. It took me 365 days to go from 49 to 50 (in age) earlier this year. I hope you go from 49 to 50 and break my record in the next few days. Congratulations."
Marco Jansen, whose first over cost 17 runs, returned expensive figures of 1- 94 in 9.4 overs.
And arguably even more wore worrying for South Africa was the sight of fellow paceman Lungi Ngidi breaking down in the 49th over with what appeared to be a hamstring injury after Ravindra Jadeja (29 not out) smashed him for six.
Rohit launched the innings in style with a typically brisk 40 before he was well caught by opposing skipper Temba Bavuma at mid-off.
Kohli came in fresh from his 88 against Sri Lanka last time out and he carried on from where left off in Mumbai with successive fours off Kagiso Rabada.
But left-arm spinner Keshav Maharaj, struck with just his third ball, bowling Shubman Gill (23) with a classic delivery that pitched just outside leg and
turned to clip the off-stump Kohli and Iyer, who made a blistering 82 against Sri Lanka, rebuilt in composed fashion.
Kohli completed a 67-ball fifty and Iyer, going through the gears, got there in 64 balls that included a superb straight six off wrist-spinner Tabraiz
The India duo upped the tempo before Iyer holed out to Ngidi at mid-on But with a capacity crowd willing him on to the landmark as thousands held up lights against the night sky, the composed Kohli`s single off Rabada saw him to a fine hundred.
Both India and second-placed South Africa, whose only defeat at this 10-team tournament so far was a shock loss to non-Test side the Netherlands, have already qualified for the semi-finals.
Brief scores: India 326-5, 50 overs (V Kohli 101 no, S Iyer 77) v South Africa