Kohli sends Kolkata into raptures with 49th ODI century

India's Virat Kohli celebrates after reaching his 49th century, equalizing with Sachin Tendulkar's record of most number of ODI centuries.
India's Virat Kohli celebrates after reaching his 49th century, equalizing with Sachin Tendulkar's record of most number of ODI centuries.
Image: REUTERS/Adnan Abidi

And so the great man, on his birthday to boot, gave this venerable venue and its nearly 70,000 occupiers, what they’d come for — another hundred, the 49th of his stellar career that ties him with his idol, Sachin Tendulkar. 

The quest for 49, has dominated the press.

The chyron on the local broadcast labelled Virat Kohli’s goal ‘The Chase Master chases the master.’ It’s lame, but it sums up exactly what this nation has been fixated on for the last couple of weeks. The remainder of the World Cup will be about Kohli getting to 50. 

But Sunday, he was the fulcrum around which India built his substantial total of 326/6, with Kohli finishing on 101 not out, off 121 balls, hitting 10 fours.

It did look at times as if he may cost his team the opportunity of getting to 300, such was the care he was taking throughout his innings.

Thankfully for the home team, Suryakumar Yadav, with 22 off 14 balls and Ravindra Jadeja with an unbeaten 29 off 15 balls, provided the necessary acceleration to ensure the hard work Kohli and Shreyas Iyer did in the middle of the innings was rewarded.

Aside from Kagiso Rabada and Keshav Maharaj, South Africa’s bowling was downright awful.

Having had their playoff spot secured when Pakistan won on Saturday, everyone in the Proteas camp will be grateful that Sunday’s performance came in a match which had little consequence. 

The control from both Marco Jansen and Lungi Ngidi with the new ball was severely lacking. The former couldn’t manage the swinging ball in his first spell, conceding eight wides — five of which went to the boundary — in his first over. Even when the ball stopped swinging, his line remained wayward, leaving Temba Bavuma struggling to set fields. 

For Ngidi it wasn’t about swing so much, more inconsistency which hampered him through his first two spells. Scoring against the new ball was much easier than it would become later once the spinners — well Maharaj at least — came into the attack. This was a sluggish, dry surface, which had been used in a previous encounter a few days ago. 

However between them Ngidi and Jansen made the job of the Indian batters far too easy. There were 14 fours and three sixes struck in the first power play, with India scoring 91 runs. Thankfully for Bavuma, he had Rabada to provide control and amid the carnage in that power play, his wicket-maiden in his first over — in which he dismissed Rohit Sharma with help of a good catch at mid-off by the captain — allowed the Proteas to gain a foothold. 

The problem was that besides Maharaj, who dismissed Shubman Gill with beauty that spun from outside the line of leg-stump to hit the off bail, there was no one else in the South African attack capable of building a semblance of pressure. 

Rabada had a fabulous battle with Kohli in that opening five-over spell beating the outside edge on a handful of occasions. When he and Maharaj operated together, South Africa was able to keep the scoring rate down, and silence this otherwise boisterous and expectant crowd. 

The problem of course was they couldn’t bowl all the time. Maharaj bowled his 10 overs in a single spell conceding only 30 runs, but once Bavuma was forced to rope in the rest of the attack, India began to take charge.

Tabraiz Shamsi, a surprising inclusion ahead of Gerald Coetzee bowled poorly after a good opening over, with Iyer smashing him for a couple of boundaries. His line was also poor and he bowled seven wides down the legside.

His ninth over, must be in line for worst of the tournament, a 10-ball horror show, that also included a no-ball, but which the Indian batters only managed to score five runs off. 

Iyer, who shared a 134-run third-wicket partnership with Kohli, made 77 off 87 balls which was a well constructed knock, as he provided the acceleration after the 30th over.

Kohli nudged and nurdled his way to the landmark while Yadav and Jadeja swung for the fences, and a dreadful day for Ngidi got worse when he eventually had to leave the field, with a foot injury, picked up when he fielded a ball off his own bowling with his right foot earlier. He finished with 1/63 from 8.2 overs.

Jansen had a worse night, and the last thing he wanted was to complete that Ngidi over, which left him with figures of 1/94 from 9.4 overs. 

South Africa also conceded 26 extras, 22 of them wides.


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