India’s ‘chase-master’ Virat Kohli donned a different hat in the Cricket World Cup 2023 match against South Africa on Sunday, scoring a world record-equalling 49th ODI century while the team opted to bat first. Kohli’s 121-ball 101 helped the team post 326 runs on the board, a total that was more than enough on a tricky pitch. However, not everyone was happy with the pace with which Kohli scored runs, especially considering how the likes of Rohit Sharma, Shreyas Iyer, Ravindra Jadeja, and Suryakumar Yadav played. During the innings break, Kohli explained the reason behind his approach.
After equalling Tendulkar’s ODI centuries record, Virat spoke to the broadcaster where he explained how tricky the wicket is. After India lost Rohit Sharma and Shubman Gill, the message from the dressing room was for Kohli to hold one end and let others bat around him.
“It was a wicket that was tricky to bat on, we got a great start from Rohit and Shubman, my job was to keep it going on. The ball started gripping and turning after the 10th over, it slowed down and then my role was to bat deep with the others playing around me. That was what was communicated to me by the team management,” Kohli revealed.
Other than Kohli, Iyer also played a highly impactful knock, scoring 77 from 87 balls. Virat also shed light on his partnership with Iyer, having practiced with him on several occasions during practice sessions.
“Shreyas played well and we got a few more runs towards the end. We had a lot of chats during the Asia Cup, we bat at 3 and 4, so this was the partnership that was needed to take the game forward. We don’t have Hardik in the team, so we knew a wicket or two could cost us, we had to dig deep and take the match deep,” he said.
When asked about his record ton, Kohli said that he was grateful to have reached the landmark on his birthday.
“I’m grateful to god for giving me the chance to play and contribute to the team’s success. It’s great to get a hundred on my birthday in front of this big crowd at this great venue. The pitch is on the slower side, we have a quality bowling line-up as well, but we’ll have to work hard. Wickets will be the key, getting a couple early will put them under pressure with the way this pitch is behaving,” he concluded.
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