Among the many things that were spoken about throughout this World Cup was whether Virat Kohli can equal or even surpass Sachin Tendulkar’s ODI century record over the course of the tournament. Kohli’s tally stood at 47 before the start of the tournament and he ended up equalling Tendulkar’s all-time record of 49 during India’s group stage match against South Africa at the Eden Gardens. He then went on to surpass that, quite fittingly, at the Wankhede Stadium itself which had been Tendulkar’s home ground in domestic cricket. Tendulkar was present in the stands as well and Kohli’s century also helped India beat New Zealand by 70 runs and reach the final of a World Cup for the fourth time.
India batting great Sunil Gavaskar hailed Kohli’s seemingly ‘insatiable’ hunger for centuries. In addition to the 50 centuries in ODIs, Kohli also has 29 centuries in Test cricket and one in T20s. His career tally in international cricket thus stands at 80, which is the second highest for any player in the history of the game behind Tendulkar’s 100 centuries. In ODI century charts, Kohli is now the all-time highest while his longtime teammate and India captain Rohit Sharma is third after Tendulkar on 31.
“The next best (among active players) is Rohit Sharma with 31. So it just tells you the vast gap between him and the rest,” said Gavaskar on India Today. “People are run-hungry, he is century-hungry. And his hunger for centuries are insatiable and that is how it should be. Every batter worth his salt should put a minimum price of 100 against his name.”
Kohli had famously gone through a three-year period between 2019 and 2022 in which he couldn’t score any centuries and his wider form had also taken a hit in that period. However, his recovery from that started last year, scoring his first-ever T20I century and then breaking his droughts in ODI and Test cricket. He now seems to be back at his prolific best in ODIs and in this World Cup, Kohli broke the record for most runs scored by any batter in a single tournament. Kohli’s tally currently stands at 711, which beats the 673 that Tendulkar scored in the 2003 World Cup.
“That is what he is doing in every match. In this tournament itself, he could have got three more centuries. A couple of times he has gone past 50 and got out after that and so he has been in phenomenal form. And he has made every match count,” said Gavaskar.
‘Bowlers win you tournaments’
Kohli’s prolific form would be the highlight for most teams in World Cup campaigns over the years but in India’s case, it is only one of a number of aspects that have led to the team running through the tournament while hardly even being challenged. India have reached the finals after winning all their group games, which means that they are on a run of 10 consecutive wins and their bowling lineup of Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Siraj, Mohammed Shami, Kuldeep Yadav, Ravindra Jadeja and Hardik Pandya before he got injured terrorising batting lineups.
“Very special and they are all different. Bumrah comes in with an action that is not in the coaching books but just so effective. Now he has added the outswinger to his repertoire which makes it even more difficult to score off him. Then the straight seam bowling of Mohammed Shami, the accuracy and pace with which he bowls. And then, the big heart of Mohammed Siraj. That has really kept the opposition batters on tenterhooks. Yes there will the odd partnership but they have been the ones who have come back and struck when that happens. And in the middle overs, you have Ravindra Jadeja and Kuldeep Yadav not just stopping runs but taking wickets as well and setting the opposition back. It really has been an attack to remember. Generally in a tournament batters might win you the matches, as we saw with Maxwell. But it is the bowlers who will win you the tournaments,” said Gavaskar.