Sachin Tendulkar, the game’s premier batsman until his retirement in 2013, passed on the mantle to Kohli, who has dominated the cricketing scene for extended periods over the past decade.Initially part of batting’s “Fab Four” alongside Joe Root of England, Steve Smith of Australia, and Kane Williamson of New Zealand, Kohli has not only sustained his brilliance but has surged ahead of his contemporaries.
Between 2011 and 2019, Kohli amassed over 1,000 ODI runs in a year on seven occasions, showcasing his remarkable consistency. However, he faced a dry spell without an international century for nearly three years after that prolific period.
The elegant right-hander ended that drought in September last year and has been at his prolific best at the current World Cup, where he is the runaway top-scorer with 711 runs from 10 matches including three centuries.
World Cup 2023 semifinal breaking: Virat Kohli scores 50th ODI ton, breaks Sachin Tendulkar’s record
He overtook Tendulkar’s record of 49 ODI hundreds in Mumbai on Wednesday and it was only fitting that his idol was present at the Wankhede Stadium to see it.
“I couldn’t be happier that an Indian broke my record,” Tendulkar wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter, to congratulate his protege.
“And to do it on the biggest stage – in the World Cup Semi-final – and at my home ground is the icing on the cake.”
The pace at which Kohli broke Tendulkar’s record also stands out, achieving his 50th ODI ton in 279 innings to his predecessor’s 49 in 452 innings.
Kohli seems immune to the pressure that other batters feel while chasing, and 27 of his 50 hundreds have come batting second.
His dominance has invariably drawn comparisons with West Indies great Viv Richards, who himself is an admirer of Kohli’s batting.
“I am a huge fan of Virat … and he continues to show why he has to go down as one of the all-time greats, right up there with the likes of the great Sachin,” Richards wrote in his column for the International Cricket Council.
“Many people have made comparisons between the two of us over the years, partly because of our shared intensity on the field.
“I love Virat’s enthusiasm… He is always in the game and I like individuals like that.”
Age and fatherhood may have mellowed him, but Kohli can still put on an arresting display when he steps onto the field.
Once out in the middle, Kohli does not shun the spotlight, he hogs it – even when celebrating a rival’s dismissal in which he has played no role.
Fans love him. And many obey him as well – with a gesture or a stare he can whip up frenzied support from the stands when the team need extra motivation, or stop the crowd from booing a rival, such as Steve Smith, or taunting a fellow India player.
But it is with the bat that he is at his best, and there is hardly a more impressive sight in contemporary cricket than his checked cover drive.
Pakistan bowling great Wasim Akram’s post on X this week best summed up Kohli’s impact on batting.
“We live in @imVkohli era. Congratulations emperor,” the bowling great wrote after Kohli’s Mumbai masterclass.
(With Reuters Inputs)