Diligently executing the role given to him and playing to the situation was the key to his consistent display in the ongoing ICC Men’s ODI World Cup 2023, said former India captain Virat Kohli soon after scoring his 50th ODI century in the semifinal clash with New Zealand on Wednesday.
Kohli on Wednesday scored his third century of this World Cup, reaching 117 off 113 balls, hitting nine fours and two sixes as he went past Sachin Tendulkar’s record for the most centuries by a batsman in ODI cricket. He had equalled Tendulkar’s record of 48 tons by scoring a hundred against South Africa at Eden Gardens in Kolkata on November 5. His 50th century came in 279th innings while Tendulkar’s 49 came in 452.
Kohli has also scored five half-centuries in the 2023 World Cup to take his total to 711 runs in 10 innings at a sensational average of 101.56.
Calling the innings “too good to be true”, Kohli said his consistency was because he was sticking to the role given to him in the World Cup.
“(It was a) Big game for us and I played the role so that the guys around me can come and express themselves. As I said, for me theh most important thing is to make my team win. I’ve been given a role this tournament and I’m trying to dig deep. That’s the key to consistency — play according to the situation and play for the team,” Kohli told the official broadcaster during the innings break.
There was no doubt about Kohli’s class since he made his ODI debut for India at Dambulla in the 2008 series in Sri Lanka. He was part of the Indian team that won the 2011 World Cup at this same Wankhede Stadium and has led India with distinction in all formats of the game.
Still, Kohli said scoring the 50th century at Wankhede and with his idol Sachin Tendulkar watching and applauding was surreal.
“Well, I’m feeling (pauses). Again, the great man just congratulated me. It feels like a dream. Too good to be true. It’s the stuff of dreams. 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.”
With this innings, Kohli has now scored 13,794 runs in 291 One-Day International matches at an average of 58.69, hitting 50 centuries and 71 half-centuries. He is now third in the list of those who have scored the most runs in ODI history, behind Tendulkar (18,426) and Kumara Sangakkara (14,234) of Sri Lanka.
Kohli’s batting in his World Cup is an amazing study in consistency — as he batted risk-free at the start while others went for their shots around him and then opened up later in his innings.
In this World Cup, Kohli started with 85 against Australia at Chennai and followed it up with 55 not out against Afghanistan. he could score only 16 against Pakistan at Ahmedabad before moving closer to Tendulkar’s record with an unbeaten 103 against Bangladesh at Pune — his 48th hundred. It looked like he would equal Tendulkar’s record in the next match against New Zealand but got out for 95. A zero against England in Lucknow was the lone blip for Kohli but he was back to his usual self by scoring 88 against Sri Lanka at the Wankhede.
Kohli equalled Tendulkar’s record with an unbeaten 101 against South Africa at the Eden Gardens and followed that up with 51 in India’s final league match of the World Cup against the Netherlands in Bengaluru.