In a thrilling encounter at the iconic Eden Gardens, Virat Kohli celebrated his birthday in the most cricketing way possible by notching up his 49th ODI century. This remarkable achievement now puts him on par with the legendary Sachin Tendulkar in the 50-over version of the game.
Sachin Tendulkar, who himself marked his 25th birthday with a century in the Coca Cola Cup final in Sharjah on April 24, 1998, was quick to congratulate Kohli on his incredible feat. He humorously remarked, “Well played, Virat. It took me 365 days to go from 49 to 50 earlier this year. I hope you go from 49 to 50 and break my record in the next few days.”
Kohli’s innings was a testament to his adaptability and resilience. The pitch at the Eden Gardens posed several challenges, requiring him to adjust his game plan. While he is known for his aggressive style, he had to employ a more measured approach, given the tricky conditions.
The early phase of Kohli’s innings saw him race to 18 off 14 balls with four boundaries, displaying his intent. However, the spin duo of Keshav Maharaj and Tabraiz Shamsi slowed down his scoring rate, forcing Kohli to carefully negotiate the turn and variations.
Kohli had a stroke of luck when wicketkeeper Quinton de Kock dropped a crucial catch while he was in his mid-30s. Maharaj, in the following over, narrowly missed the outside edge as Kohli was deceived by the turn while attempting a front-foot shot.
Despite these challenges, Kohli’s experience shone through as he patiently accumulated runs. His unbeaten 101 runs came at a strike rate of 83.47, featuring 10 boundaries but surprisingly no sixes.
Shreyas Iyer played a complementary role in the partnership, adopting an aggressive style and maintaining a strike rate of 88.51. Their partnership, worth 134 runs off 158 balls, propelled India to a commanding position in the match.
While reaching this significant milestone, Kohli displayed remarkable composure and humility. His celebration upon achieving his 49th ODI century was understated, perhaps reflecting his unwavering focus on the bigger goal—the World Cup.
Virat Kohli’s remarkable achievement not only equals Sachin Tendulkar’s record but also stands as a testament to his adaptability and the depth of his commitment to Indian cricket. As he inches closer to surpassing Sachin’s record, cricket fans around the world eagerly anticipate his journey in the ongoing World Cup and beyond.