Virat Kohli celebrated his 35th birthday on Sunday by reaching his 49th ODI century, and equalling Sachin Tendulkar for the most tons in the format. His unbeaten 101 (121 balls, 10x4s) and Shreyas Iyer’s 77 (87 balls, 7x4s, 2x6s) took India to 326/5 in 50 overs against South Africa in their eighth and penultimate group game at the World Cup, in Kolkata.
The Indian openers, led by Rohit Sharma, began aggressively putting on 62 for the first wicket before Sharma was dismissed in the sixth over for 40.
India then lost Shubman Gill (23), bowled by Keshav Maharaj, just after the first power-play in which India had collected over 90 runs.
Kohli and Iyer then consolidated the innings against tight bowling from the South Africans, led by Maharaj, in the next 20 overs.
The two saw off the left-arm spinner, who was the best of the Proteas bowlers on the day on a slow, spin-friendly surface and was made to bowl his 10 overs in one go by skipper Temba Bavuma.
Post Maharaj spell, run-scoring became easy and both Kohli and Iyer tried to force the pace.
Iyer was dismissed on 77, while trying to increase the run rate.
However, Kohli hung on to complete his century off 119 balls. In the process, he became the third Indian after Tendulkar and Vinod Kambli to score a century on his birthday although the other two did it outside the World Cup. This was also Kohli’s second century in the World Cup following the 103 not out against Bangladesh in Pune. Twice he had come close to miss it – against New Zealand in Dharamsala and against Sri Lanka in Mumbai.
Ravindra Jadeja scored 29 not out off 15 balls while Suryakumar Yadav made 22 off 14 deliveries on Sunday to help India cross the 300-run mark.
Kohli’s break-up of centuries: 10 vs Sri Lanka, 9 vs West Indies, 8 vs Australia, 5 each against South Africa, New Zealand and Bangladesh, 3 each vs England and Pakistan, and 1 against Zimbabwe.