KOLKATA: India’s Virat Kohli equaled Sachin Tendulkar’s record of 49 international hundreds in one day, while unbeaten World Cup hosts India defeated semi-finalist South Africa by 243 runs in their pool match on Sunday.
Kohli reached the milestone with 119 balls, including 10 fours, at Kolkata’s Eden Gardens on his 35th birthday.
It had taken him an innings of 277 to score 49 hundreds at this level, compared to the 438 needed by India 2011 World Cup champion Tendulkar.
Kohli’s 101 was the centerpiece of India’s 326-5 score before their powerful attack was cleared as Rohit Sharma’s men claimed eight wins out of eight in the tournament.
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Along with Shreyas Iyer (77), he shared the third wicket partnership of 134 after India skipper Rohit won the toss.
India, fresh from dismissing Sri Lanka for just 55 points (the lowest total of any Test side in a World Cup) during the 302-run defeat of the 1996 champions, caused another collapse as South Africa were dismissed for 83.
This was the Proteas’ second-lowest ODI total after the 69 against Australia in Sydney in 1993, and the lowest in the World Cup.
Left-arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja did most of the damage, taking 5-33; India are now assured of finishing at the top of the pool stage; South Africa’s lower-order batsman Marco Jansen’s 14 was the highest score of the innings.
It was South Africa’s second pool defeat following their stunning non-Test defeat to the Netherlands, and the gap between the top two teams on Sunday was almost as shocking as the opposite.
Kohli, who currently averages over 108 in the World Cup, said during the innings break: “Any opportunity to play for India is a big opportunity, to be able to get together on my birthday is a dream come true. It’s something you dream of when you’re a kid.”
Tendulkar paid tribute to retired Indian great Kohli, writing on his old Twitter account X: “Well played Virat. It took me 365 days to get from 49 at the beginning of this year to 50 (years old). I hope you can go from 49 to 50 in the coming days and break my record. Congratulations.”
India trailed South African Quinton de Kock, the tournament’s top scorer, by just five runs when he bowled Mohammed Siraj before Jadeja bowled Proteas skipper Temba Bavuma.
Mohammed Shami, who took a magnificent five-wicket haul against Sri Lanka, struck with only his fifth ball and Aiden Markram was caught behind with a rough delivery, inching wide to take the outside edge.
Jadeja dropped dangerman Heinrich Klaasen earlier and it became 40-4 40-5 as pacer Shami overturned another original off-out decision as Rassie van der Dussen was out for thin on 13.
Earlier, left-arm quick Jansen, who cost 17 runs in the first over, had posted expensive figures of 1-94 in 9.4 overs.
Rohit started the innings in style with a typically quick 40 before being caught well by Bavuma at mid-on.
Kohli picked up where he left off in his 88th match against Sri Lanla with consecutive strikes by fast bowler Kagiso Rabada.
But Keshav Maharaj struck with only his third ball, a classic delivery to the left-arm spinner Shubman Gill (23), which darted just outside leg and turned to clip the off stump.
Kohli and Iyer, who scored a blistering 82 against Sri Lanka, patiently regrouped before the accelerating Iyer ran away from Ngidi.
But while thousands in the Gardens of Eden lit up the night sky, Kohli’s single off Rabada saw him face to face.
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