India’s captain Virat Kohli became the second batsman in the world to score a century in his 200th ODI during the first One-Day International against New Zealand in Mumbai on Sunday.
However, courtesy Latham and Taylor’s commanding performance in the run-chase, a memorable day for Virat Kohli ended on a disappointing note.
New Zealand won the match by six wickets and took a 1-0 series lead.
On a day when the top-ranked batsman in the ICC ODI rankings AB de Villiers failed in South Africa colours, his competitor for the top spot – Kohli – struck a masterful century to lift India to a competitive score at the Wankhede Stadium.
The 28-year old was in the run-scoring zone and did not allow anything to affect him – not the occasion of playing his 200th ODI, not the trying conditions, the disciplined opponents or the wickets falling around him.
The Indian captain walked out to bat after Shikhar Dhawan was dismissed in the fourth over, and he only left the arena in the final over of the innings after he’d scored a brilliant 121. Courtesy the hundred he scored on Sunday afternoon, he joined an exclusive club of two other Indian batsmen who had scored hundreds at the Wankhede Stadium.
In 1987, Mohammad Azharuddin became the first Indian batsman to score a ODI hundred at the venue, while Sachin Tendulkar joined the one-man club when he scored 114 against South Africa in 1996. And then, 21 years later, Virat Kohli - heir-apparent to Sachin Tendulkar as the format’s greatest batsman – joined the club.
In the lead up to the match, all the buzz was about the milestone appearance for Kohli; Sunday’s ODI against New Zealand was his 200th ODI appearance, and he celebrated the occasion by scoring a responsible hundred. It wasn’t the free-flowing innings one is used to seeing from Kohli.
He had to toil and work hard for his runs; he only struck 9 fours and 2 sixes in his innings – but was in firm control of things in the middle. In an innings of 125 deliveries, he only edged the ball or was beaten on 12 occasions; that’s exceptional control considering he was out in the middle when the Kiwi bowlers had their tails up and still had the two fairly new balls in operation.
In the 45th over, Virat brought up his hundred when he pulled Tim Southee to the fine-leg region; in doing so, he joined AB de Villiers as the only two batsmen to score hundreds playing their 200th ODIs.
It speaks volumes of Kohli’s motivation, fitness levels and mental strength that in those trying conditions – when some of the fielders struggled to cope with the sweltering heat and the humidity levels in Mumbai – Virat batted for nearly the entire innings. That Virat could not recover in time to take the field at the start of the run-chase – despite being in the controlled environments of the dressing room for nearly 30 minutes – helps understand how draining batting must have been.
Best-ever at The 200-ODIs Mark
It doesn’t need telling, but Virat Kohli’s numbers at this stage in his career are far superior to any other player who has played 200 ODIs. Recalling some of the greats from the past – Sir Vivian Richards, Ricky Ponting, Sanath Jayasuriya, Brian Lara, Inzamam-ul-Haq, Sachin Tendulkar – none of them scored as many runs in their first 200 ODIs as Virat Kohli has.
Courtesy his hundred against the Blackcaps on Sunday afternoon, Virat Kohli now has 31 ODI hundreds. Only one batsman ever has scored more hundreds than him; there is absolutely no one between him and mount Sachin Tendulkar (49 ODI hundreds).
When Virat Kohli led India to the title triumph in the Under-19 World Cup, he was seen as someone who had that spark. But there would have been very few – if anyone at all – who had at that stage envisioned that he would become a run-machine in the future and be counted among the best batsmen of his generation.
The secret to Kohli’s success is that he remains hungry, and numbers illustrate how the hunger has only developed over the years. If his career is broken into blocks of 50 matches, this last block of 50 – from matches 151 to 200 – have been his most productive period; he has scored more runs, more hundreds in this block and as a result has an outstanding average of 68.10.
Unaffected by Captaincy
Here’s another set of astounding numbers; he has been regular India captain for barely over two years, but he has already scored more hundreds than any other India captain ever has. In his 77 matches in-charge of the Indian team, he has scored 19 hundreds – already 3 more than Sourav Ganguly did in his years in-charge of the Indian team.
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