India cricket team’s mainstay Virat Kohli scored his 50th century in One-day International (ODI) cricket, the most by any batsman in the format’s history, when he returned with 117 off 113 balls (9x4s, 2x6s) against New Zealand in the ICC World Cup semi-final at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai. The former India captain went past Sachin Tendulkar’s record of 49 ODI centuries and also in the process of Wednesday’s knock upstaged the now retired maestro’s record of most runs in a single World Cup edition.
Tendulkar had scored 673 runs in the 2003 World Cup in South Africa; 20 years later the Delhi-born Kohli bettered it and has 709 runs so far.
This was Kohli’s third century of the ongoing World Cup, having scored tons earlier against South Africa and Bangladesh in the league phase. The 35-year-old has also scored five half-centuries.
The right-handed batsman started off in a sedate manner after the current India captain Rohit Sharma had blazed to a quickfire 47 off 29 balls, taking India to 71 runs in just over eight overs.
From there onwards, Kohli, Shubman Gill (80 not out off 66 balls), Shreyas Iyer (105 off 70 balls) denied the Kiwis any breakthrough for over two-and-a-half hours. The only break New Zealand managed in the process was when Gill retired hurt on 79 off 65 balls due to cramps with the team score on 164.
Such was India’s dominance over the lacklustre New Zealand bowlers, who were also guilty of bowling poor lines, that they added 256 runs without losing any wicket.
The easy-paced pitch, which was at the centre of controversy after British newspaper Daily Mail reported that it was chosen ahead of the originally planned one, created no problems for the India batsmen who, in fact, thrived on it.
It was a jog for them as they reached 50 in 5.2 overs, 100 in 12.2 overs, 150 in 19.4 overs, 200 in 28.1 overs, 250 in the 36th over, 300 in 42 overs and then galloping to 350 in 46.2 overs.
Kohli’s dismissal — he was caught at deep square leg — with the score at 327 did not stop the other Indian batsmen, especially Iyer, who reached his century off just 67 balls, from scoring runs briskly. Iyer’s one six off Rachin Ravindra that went to second tier over long on exemplified his form and dominance. He hit eight sixes in all to power India to 397/4 in the allotted 50 overs.
New Zealand’s top two pace bowlers, Trent Boult and Tim Southee, were the most expensive conceding 86 and 100 respectively. The pitch, with the afternoon sun beating on it, did not provide anything to them.