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Kohli ‘honored’ to equal ‘hero’ Tendulkar’s ODI century record

India's Virat Kohli reacts after their win at the end of the 2023 ICC Men's Cricket World Cup one-day international (ODI) match against South Africa at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata on 5 November 2023. (Photo by DIBYANGSHU SARKAR / AFP)

Virat Kohli said he felt “honored” to equal “hero” Sachin Tendulkar’s record of 49 one-day international hundreds during India’s World Cup rout of fellow semi-finalists South Africa on Sunday.

Kohli, on his 35th birthday, made a superbly paced 101 not out in India’s total of 326-5 in their maximum 50 overs after home captain Rohit Sharma won the toss on a tricky pitch at Kolkata’s Eden Gardens.

India, who have now won all eight of their pool play matches so far and are now guaranteed to finish top of the 10-team table, then dismissed South Africa for just 83 in 27.1 overs, with spinner Ravindra Jadeja taking 5-3.

During the innings break, the now retired Tendulkar — whom Kohli lifted on his shoulders in celebration after they were team-mates in India’s 2011 World Cup final win at his idol’s Mumbai home ground — posted his congratulations on X, formerly Twitter.

“Well played Virat,” said the India great. “It took me 365 days to go from 49 to 50 (years old) earlier this year. I hope you go from 49 to 50 and break my record in the next few days. Congratulations.”

It had taken him 277 innings to score 49 hundreds at this level compared to the 438 required by Tendulkar.

“Tendulkar’s tweet is quite special,” said Kohli. “It’s all too much to take in for now. It’s a huge honor to equal my hero’s record. He’s perfection with the bat. It’s an emotional moment.

“I know the days I come from, I know the days I have watched him on TV. To receive appreciation from him means a lot to me.”

India’s colossal winning margin in Kolkata was all the more impressive given South Africa, whose only defeat in the tournament before this match was a shock loss to the Netherlands, are second in the 10-team table and already assured of a last-four spot themselves.

“It was a big game,” said Kohli. “We were probably playing the toughest team in the tournament so far, there was motivation for doing well.

“People made it a bit more special on my birthday. I had a sense of it being something more.”

He added: “The message from the management was for me to bat deep, I was happy from that perspective.”

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