Virat Kohli celebrates his 50th century against New Zealand in ICC Men's World Cup 2023 semi-final.(Photo:Debasish Dey)
Mumbai: Virat ‘King’ Kohli surpassed ‘God of Cricket’ Sachin Tendulkar as batsman with most centuries in One-Day Internationals to bring the house down at the Wankhede Stadium and put India firmly on path to the World Cup final.
The former Indian captain struck 117 for his 50th ODI ton, against New Zealand in the World Cup semifinal at Tendulkar’s home ground on Wednesday to power India to a gigantic 397 for 4, a mountain the Kiwis found too high to climb.
Kohli’s emotions came to the fore as he brought up his coveted three-figure mark by turning fast bowler Lockie Ferguson for a brace in the 42nd over of the innings. The 35-year-old leapt high, punched the air, sank to his knees and pondered a bit before regaining composure to get back on his feet. He then took his helmet off, raised his arms and bowed to the legendary Tendulkar, who was up on his feet applauding Kohli’s feat, as the stadium erupted in raucous cheers.
Kohli then blew kisses in the direction of his Bollywood actress wife Anushka Sharma, who reciprocated the gesture from the stands.
Tendulkar was all praise for Kohli. "The first time I met you in the Indian dressing room, you were pranked by other teammates into touching my feet. I couldn’t stop laughing that day. But soon you touched my heart with your passion and skill. I am so happy that the young boy has grown into a ‘Virat’ player," he wrote on his X (formerly Twitter) account.
"I could not be happier that an Indian broke my record, And to do it on the biggest stage -- in the World Cup semifinal -- and at my home ground is the icing on the cake," he added.
Kohli responded: "Again, the great man just congratulated me. It feels like a dream."
"Sachin paaji was there in the stands. It’s very difficult for me to express it. My life partner, my hero -- he’s sitting there. And all these fans at the Wankhede," Kohli said during the innings break.
Kohli also became the highest run-getter in a single edition of the World Cup, again surpassing Tendulkar (623 run in 2003). He has 711, the only batsman to score more than 700 runs in the showpiece.
Among active cricketers, captain Rohit Sharma is behind Kohli’s centuries record with 31.
Top centurions in ODIs: Virat Kohli 50 (279 innings), Sachin Tendulkar 49 (452 innings), Rohit Sharma 31 (253 innings), Ricky Ponting 30 (365 innings), Sanath Jayasuriya 28 (433 innings).