'Stuff of dreams', says Kohli after matching Tendulkar century record

In all Kohli now has 49 ODI centuries, 29 hundreds in Test matches and one ton in Twenty20 internationals

By AFP

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Indian batter Virat Kohli celebrates his record-equalling century during the World Cup match against South Africa. — PTI
Indian batter Virat Kohli celebrates his record-equalling century during the World Cup match against South Africa. — PTI

Published: Sun 5 Nov 2023, 6:40 PM

Virat Kohli said it was "the stuff of dreams" to equal Sachin Tendulkar's record of 49 one-day international centuries on Sunday.

On his 35th birthday, Kohli made an undefeated 101 as India reached 326-5 in their World Cup group game with South Africa at the country's iconic Eden Gardens in Kolkata.

"Every opportunity to play for India is a big one and to do this on my birthday in front of a huge crowd is the stuff of dreams. It is something you dream about as a child," said Kohli.

"I am just happy to help the team as much as possible."

In all Kohli now has 49 ODI centuries, 29 hundreds in Test matches and one ton in Twenty20 internationals.

He has accumulated more than 26,000 runs in all three formats.

"Well played Virat," wrote Tendulkar on X, formerly Twitter, who celebrated his 50th birthday in April.

"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. Congratulations!"

Former rival, Pakistan's Shahid Afridi also hailed Kohli.

"This is the best birthday gift from Virat Kohli to the fans of team India & entire cricket fraternity," wrote Afridi on X.

Former West Indies fast bowler Ian Bishop, now a respected TV commentator, wrote on social media: "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."

Suresh Raina, who once played alongside Kohli, described his compatriot as "so elegant".

"When I first met him, I remember every game he would say, 'I have to score a 100 today'. Well done Virat, so beautiful, so elegant, just looking like a wow!"

In a Star Sports broadcast on Sunday, former India all-rounder Irfan Pathan said in Hindi: "Kohli carried Sachin on his shoulders during the 2011 World Cup celebrations....."

"But now he stands shoulder to shoulder with the Master Blaster."

Kohli has invoked a similar emotional response from cricket-crazy Indian and global fans that was once enjoyed by Tendulkar.

Kohli's number 18 jersey has an overwhelming presence in Indian grounds.

Known to wear his heart on the sleeve, Kohli has never shied away from a battle on the field and despite his regular brush with controversies the star remains one of the most popular cricketers.

Fans invading the pitch to touch his feet and take selfies remain regular occurrences at Indian venues.

He is also fabulously wealthy, leading India's list of highest-paid athletes with earnings of $33.9 million mainly from brand endorsements, according to analysts Sportico's 2022 list.

Kohli went through an extended lean patch that spread across since 2021, failing to reach three figures in over 1,000 days.

He quit as T20 skipper in late 2021 and was soon sacked from the ODI captaincy.

Kohli gave up leading the Test side too and later talked about his mental struggles during his dry phase, including how he had been "snappy" around his Bollywood actress wife Anushka Sharma.

Kohli hit his first hundred after a gap of 1,020 days in the 2022 T20 World Cup and has not looked back.

"He is literally exceptional in every role in his life," Anushka posted on Instagram to mark her husband's birthday.

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