'Stuff of dreams': Virat Kohli after leaving Tendulkar behind en route to No. 49 | Crickit
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'Stuff of dreams, things you dream of as a child': Virat Kohli after leaving Sachin Tendulkar behind en route to No. 49

Nov 05, 2023 06:40 PM IST

Virat Kohli scored his 49th ODI ton in 277 innings, 174 quicker than Sachin Tendulkar.

Virat Kohli could not have scripted it better. Actually, no one could. Celebrating his 35th birthday, Kohli lived up to his moniker of 'King', and registered his much-awaited 49th ODI century during India's 2023 World Cup contest against South Africa at the iconic Eden Gardens in Kolkata. Kohli, who came close to the landmark against New Zealand and then versus Sri Lanka three days ago, finally got the monkey off his back by not only levelling up with the great Sachin Tendulkar, but getting there in 277 innings, 174 innings quicker.

Can anything stop Virat Kohli?(AFP)
Can anything stop Virat Kohli?(AFP)

Kohli remained unbeaten on 101, and along with a 134-run partnership involving Shreyas Iyer, who scored a handsome 77 off 97 balls, powered India to 326/5. Kohli was tired, and physical spent, all his energy drained, but the former India captain had just that bit of adrenaline left to talk about the historic milestone. Kohli expressed that these are the kind of fairytale moments he, let alone any aspiring cricketer, wishes to experience.

"Every opportunity to play for India is a big one, to be able to ton up on my birthday is a stuff of dreams. Something as a child you wish to do. Grateful to God that I've blessed with such moments," Kohli said during the mid-innings break. "It's a target well above par for me as the ball was gripping and it wasn't easy to get hold of the bowlers. We have a quality attack. Wicket will get slower, pressure will mount, so hopefully we start well with the new ball."

Kohli was in early but not exactly with India in trouble. Rohit Sharma and Shubman Gill had blasted India away to 60 in five overs, allowing Kohli to play himself it. In front of a packed crowd of 70000 at a venue where he scored his maiden century 14 years ago in 2009, took center-stage, and got going with his trademark cover drive. Once Gill was dismissed, Kohli and Iyer settled down, played out the spin threat of Keshav Maharaj and Tabraiz Shamsi before switching gears. Kohli admitted that it wasn't the easiest of pitches to bat on and it allowed him to performed the role the team requires him to.

"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. 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 because that's what I've done, that was the communication as well - to have guys bat around me. 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," he added.

While Kohli sizzled with a hundred, Shreyas' fifty was equally important in context of the game. Between the two, it was him who broke shackles first and started striking the lusty blows. Iyer took more than 11 overs to hit his first boundary, but once he did, Iyer picked pace. In the 31st over, Iyer clubbed two fours – the first of which got him to fifty – and a six – as the floodgates opened. On his century partnership, Kohli revealed a very interesting anecdote about working with Iyer up close leading up to the World Cup.

"Shreyas and I had a lot of practice sessions before the Asia Cup and invariably batted together at 3 and 4. Both of us are comfortable against spinners. Both of us are comfortable rotating strike against spinners, credit to him for putting away bad balls. When you lose two wickets and don't have Hardik, you need to bat deep and get to a stage where the opposition feels like we have to restrict them," mentioned Kohli.

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