After talismanic batter Virat Kohli reached a new highest on Sunday after he equalled legendary cricketer Sachin Tendulkar’s record of 49 ODI centuries, Australia great Ricky Ponting lavished praise on former India captain and predicted even bigger things to come for right-hander at the ongoing ICC World Cup 2023. With a stunning century against South Africa on his 35th birthday, Kohli equalled Tendulkar’s record of 49 ODI hundreds, and the swashbuckling batter has amassed a total of 543 runs in the ongoing tournament at an average of 108.60.
Kohli got to the milestone in 119 balls, including 10 fours at the iconic Eden Gardens in Kolkata. In December 2009, he scored his first ODI century against Sri Lanka at the same venue.
The former Australia captain believes India’s right-hander would play with greater freedom now that he has equalled Tendulkar.
“That might be the monkey off his back now. I think he has been working extra hard to equal Sachin’s record. That’s done now and it has happened at a really good time at the tournament for him. One more game to go and then they head into the semi-finals. It was an almost perfect day for Virat and a great day for India,” Ponting said of Kohli’s innings as quoted by ICC.
Kohli’s century against South Africa was his second of the tournament and fourth in all 50-over World Cups, and it further adds to his case as one of the best players of all time.
However, Ponting believes the ‘chase master’ has held that title for some time and should be considered the greatest hitter of all time
“There is no doubt he is the absolute best and I have said that for a long time. He didn’t need to equal Sachin’s record, he doesn’t need to break the record. If you look at his overall batting record it is incredible. To think that he got 49 ODI hundreds and equalled Sachin and in 175 fewer innings is unbelievable,” Ponting noted.
Kohli’s stunning ton and Shreyas Iyer’s explosive fifty complemented an attacking start from Rohit Sharma and Shubman Gill to help India finish 326/5.
In the second innings, The Indian bowlers pounced quickly with the new ball, dismissing South Africa’s top-order in the first Powerplay. Following that, Ravindra Jadeja (5/33) grabbed front stage, taking up frequent wickets to undermine the Proteas’ attempt.
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