Virat Kohli stole the show once again to put India in a commanding position in their World Cup semi-final against New Zealand in Mumbai.
Kohli hit his 50th one-day international century to break the all-time record of 49 set by fellow Indian Sachin Tendulkar – his brilliant 117 propelling the tournament hosts to a total of 397 for four from their 50 overs.
Shreyas Iyer also reached three figures as India dominated on a day that started in controversial fashion with the news the Board of Control for Cricket in India had reportedly ordered a change of pitch at the Wankhede Stadium – without the ICC’s consent – to favour their spin duo of Ravindra Jadeja and Kuldeep Yadav.
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New Zealand’s spin options Mitchell Santner, Glenn Phillips and Rachin Ravindra went wicktless, although their quicks also failed to make much of an impact against an onslaught that started early.
India captain Rohit Sharma and fellow opener Shubman Gill put on 71 inside nine overs before Sharma skied a Tim Southee delivery to Kane Williamson having made a 29-ball 47.
Gill seemed destined to go on to three figures but had to retire hurt on 79 with what appeared to be leg cramps on a blisteringly hot day in Mumbai. He re-appeared for the final over to nudge his personal score to 80 not out.
Kohli wasn’t going to miss out though.
The first time I met you in the Indian dressing room, you were pranked by other teammates into touching my feet. I couldn’t stop laughing that day. But soon, you touched my heart with your passion and skill. I am so happy that that young boy has grown into a ‘Virat’ player.
— Sachin Tendulkar (@sachin_rt) November 15, 2023
He survived a few edgy moments as he approached the milestone before eventually getting there with a flick on the leg side off Lockie Ferguson. Kohli sank to his knees while the Wankhede Stadium crowd, which included Tendulkar and David Beckham, rose to their feet.
It wasn’t the only record he broke today.
In getting to 80, he also broke Tendulkar’s record of 673 runs made in a single World Cup.
He eventually departed for 117, made off 113 balls, picking out Devon Conway in the deep off Southee but he had set a platform for Iyer to build on and he duly delivered with his fifth ODI century – 105 off just 70 balls.
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