On Sunday, November 5, 2023, Indian batter Virat Kohli equalled Sachin Tendulkar’s record for most centuries in One-Day Internationals (ODIs)—49. He achieved this feat on his 35th birthday in India’s World Cup match against South Africa at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata.
Kohli’s century was a special one, not only because it was his 49th in ODIs, but also because it came at a time when India was in a spot of bother. The team had lost their top three batsmen early in the innings and were struggling to get a foothold in the game. But Kohli, as he has done so many times before, stepped up to the occasion and played a match-winning innings.
He scored his century in just 120 balls, and his knock was laced with 12 fours and six sixes. He also put on a crucial partnership with Shreyas Iyer, which helped India recover from their early setback and post a competitive total of 320 runs on the board.
India eventually won the match by 120 runs, and Kohli was named the Man of the Match for his brilliant innings. His century was also celebrated by fans and pundits alike, as he had now equalled Tendulkar’s record of 49 ODI centuries.
Kohli is widely regarded as one of the greatest batsmen of all time, and his achievement of equalling Tendulkar’s record is a testament to his greatness. He has been a consistent performer for India for over a decade now, and he continues to break records and set new benchmarks.
It will be interesting to see if Kohli can surpass Tendulkar’s record of 49 ODI centuries in the near future. He is still in his prime, and he has the potential to break many more records in the years to come.
Kohli reached his 49th century in his 277th innings, far quicker than Tendulkar, who took 438 innings to achieve the same feat. His biographer, Vijay Lokapally, emphasized that Kohli never played for records, but they happened as he progressed. Lokapally attributed Kohli’s success to his remarkable batting skills and strong work ethic, which have led to his impressive career milestones.
Kohli’s influence on cricket fans in India and around the world is similar to the adoration once enjoyed by Tendulkar. His number 18 jersey is a ubiquitous sight in Indian cricket grounds. With over 26,000 international runs and 79 centuries across three formats, comparisons with Tendulkar are inevitable.
However, Lokapally believes that Kohli and Tendulkar have distinct playing styles and should not be compared directly. He stated, “Sachin faced some ferocious bowlers. Virat has dominated too. Sachin is incomparable. If Virat is enjoying his cricket today, it is because of the reputation Indian cricket acquired courtesy of Sachin Tendulkar.”
Former India batsman Mohammad Kaif praised Kohli’s ability to score centuries in challenging situations, noting, “Virat Kohli is one of the few batsmen who can score centuries at will, even when the team needs just 169 to win.”
India’s last global title came with the 2013 Champions Trophy, and their previous World Cup victory was in 2011 under Mahendra Singh Dhoni.
Kohli, who was part of the 2011 World Cup-winning team, spoke about the special emotions of playing in the 50-over showpiece. He noted, “Just the two of us from 2011,” referring to his and Ravichandran Ashwin’s presence in both World Cups.
Known for his passionate on-field demeanor, Kohli remains one of the most beloved cricketers, with fans often invading the pitch to interact with him.
He is also among India’s highest-paid athletes, earning $33.9 million primarily from brand endorsements, according to Sportico’s 2022 list.
Kohli went through a lean patch that extended from 2021, failing to reach a century for over 1,000 days. He stepped down as T20 captain in late 2021 and was subsequently removed as the ODI captain. Kohli openly discussed his mental struggles during this challenging period, including how they affected his behavior around his wife, Bollywood actress Anushka Sharma.
However, Kohli made a successful comeback, hitting his first century in over 1,000 days during the 2022 T20 World Cup.