Virat Kohli has celebrated his 35th birthday in style with a record-equalling 49th one-day international hundred to help India smash South Africa by 243 runs at the World Cup.
Kohli scored 101 not out off 121 balls — to move level in the all-time ODI ton table with another India batting great Sachin Tendulkar — as he powered his side to 5-326 at Eden Gardens on Sunday.
He added 134 off 158 balls for the third wicket with Shreyas Iyer, who scored 77 off 87.
“I am grateful to God for giving me the chance to play and contribute to the team’s success,” Kohli said. “It’s great to get a hundred on my birthday in front of this big crowd at this great venue.”
The day got even better for India. Facing the best bowling attack in the tournament, South Africa crashed to 83 all out in just 27.1 overs, their second-lowest total in ODIs.
Both India and South Africa have already qualified for the semifinals — the top two sides in the points’ table – but the hosts are the only undefeated side in the tournament with eight consecutive wins, sitting atop the table with 16 points.
South Africa have 12 points — six wins in eight games – but the other two berths are still up for grabs, with Australia on 10 points and New Zealand, Pakistan and Afghanistan all on eight.
South Africa’s batters fell easily as Ravindra Jadeja picked up his ODI best 5-33 in nine overs, while Mohammed Shami took 2-18 off four overs and Kuldeep Yadav impressed with 2-7 in 5.1 overs.
“It was a tricky wicket to bat on,” Kohli said. “The pitch was on the slower side and I was told by the team management to bat deep. Shreyas played well and we got a few more runs towards the end.
“Every opportunity to play for India is big one for me. To be able to do that on my birthday, in front of the whole crowd, it’s stuff of dreams, something that as a child you wish had happened.”
While Tendulkar scored his 49th century in his 451st ODI innings, Kohli reached the landmark in just 277.
“Well played Virat. It took me 365 days to go from 49 to 50 earlier this year. I hope you go from 49 to 50 and break my record in the next few days. Congratulations!!” Tendulkar said on social media platform X.
Chasing 327, South Africa’s innings was in disarray from the beginning as in-form Quinton de Kock chopped onto his stumps off Mohammed Siraj in the second over.
Jadeja bowled beautifully as South Africa crashed from 1-22 to 5-40 and then 6-59.
Earlier, India chose to bat first and skipper Rohit Sharma gave India a quick start, scoring 40 off 24 balls, putting on 62 off only 35 balls with Shubman Gill.
Kohli reached 50 off 67 balls and then slowed down in the second half of his innings.
Some 68,000 fans cheered as Kohli got to the record-equalling milestone in the 49th over.
His 100 came off 119 balls – the joint most deliveries Kohli has faced to reach his century alongside Adelaide in the 2015 World Cup (versus Pakistan) and Cape Town in 2018 (versus South Africa).
Jadeja smacked 29 not out off 15 balls, with three fours and a six, in an all-round team performance for two-time champions India.