There was that familiar roar and a big leap in the air. The fist throwing imaginary punches. The big smile. The world at his feet. This seemed like a trademark Virat Kohli century celebration at the beginning. But it wasn’t. Kohli went down on his knees, thanked the almighty, got up quickly to remove his gloves and helmet and then bowed down. But to whom? He had just achieved something that had never been done in the cricket field before before. He is at the top of the world, almost literally. Who does he need to bow to? The packed Wankhede Stadium knew it, the millions watching across the globe knew it. It was for Sachin Tendulkar, his idol. The man whose tally of 49 ODI centuries seemed unbreakable even a few years ago, was now the second-best. Kohli had just hit his 50th ODI century, the first to do so in the format.
A few days ago, in a league game against Sri Lanka, Kohli was gutted to miss out on his 49th century at the same venue but destiny had something bigger in store for him. He got it against South Africa at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata and today Today, on a bigger stage – World Cup semi-final – he broke the master’s world record in front of the man himself.
How did Tendulkar react? He stood, like everybody at the Wankhede and clapped as hard as he could. The genuine smile on his face portraying what a thousand words could not. About a decade ago, in an event, Tendulkar had said he wouldn’t mind if an Indian player broke his record and he had also picked Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli as the two probable. He would be ecstatic to be proven right.
Kohli, 35, reached his century — his third of the tournament — with a two off fast bowler Lockie Ferguson, having faced 106 balls, hitting eight fours and a six.
The whole heft of the achievement was magnified by the fact that November 15 also was the last time Tendulkar batted in an international match for India, a Test against the West Indies at this venue.
This was Kohli’s 279th ODI innings, with the former India captain having also scored a further 71 fifties in addition to his 50 hundreds.
Kohli’s celebrations weren’t over. He then turned to his wife Anushka Sharma, his biggest support and blew kisses only to get multiple in return The New Zealand players joined in.
During his innings, Kohli became the highest scorer in a single edition of a World Cup, surpassing Sachin Tendulkar (673 runs in 2003). The former captain bettered Tendulkar’s record which he had created in the 2003 edition of the World Cup.
Kohli also became the highest run-getter of this tournament, eclipsing South Africa’s Quinton de Kock (591), followed by New Zealand’s Rachin Ravindra (565).
Kohli is also placed in the third spot in the list of most runs in ODIs. Tendulkar with 18,426 runs tops the list, followed by Kumar Sangakkara (14,234). Kohli bettered Ricky Ponting (13,704) to take the third spot.
Kohli is also third in the list of most 50-plus scores in international cricket headed by Tendulkar (264) and followed by Ponting (217). Kohli has 217.