Team India batter Virat Kohli fields during World Cup 2023 match against South Africa in Kolkata. (Photo: AP)
Virat Kohli couldn’t have asked for a better way to celebrate his 35th birthday, scoring a record-equalling 49th century in ODI cricket as Team India hammered South Africa by 243 runs in match no. 37 of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2023 to post their eighth successive win in the tournament. Kohli scored a brilliant unbeaten 101 as Rohit Sharma’s side posted 326 for 5 after batting first at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata.
In reply, South Africa were never in the hunt as they were bundled out for just 83 in 27.1 overs with left-arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja claiming a five-wicket haul. Kohli kept the crowd entertained in the second innings of the game as well as he was seen dancing to Bollywood star Shah Rukh Khan’s hit number ‘Chaleya’ in his recent blockbuster ‘Jawan’.
The Eden Gardens, in fact, is home to SRK-owned Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) Indian Premier League (IPL) franchise. In a video which went viral on social media, Kohli is also seen striking SRK’s iconic pose.
WATCH Virat Kohli groove to Shah Rukh Khan’s ‘Chaleya’ HERE…
Kohli won the ‘Player of the Match’ award for his brilliant century which equalled legendary Sachin Tendulkar’s record in ODI cricket. “It was a big game, probably playing the toughest team in the tournament. There was a motivation to do well. Because it happened on my birthday, it becomes special and the people made it more special for me. I did wake up with that excitement that today is not just another game,” Kohli said in the post-match presentation in Kolkata on Sunday.
It was just the second occasion when an opposition batter – Kohli (101) – outscored entire South African team (83). The only previous time it happened was back in 2013 when Sri Lanka’s Kumar Sangakkara scored 169 while SA were bundled out for just 140.
“People from the outside look at the game in a bit of a different way. When the openers start well, it feels it is a belter and everyone has to play that way. But as the ball got older, the conditions slowed down drastically. The message was clear, keep batting around me. I was happy from that perspective. Once we got more than 315, we knew that we were above par. I’m enjoying myself, playing cricket all over again, that is more important to me than phases. I’m just happy that God has blessed me with that enjoyment. I’m just happy that I’m being able to do what I have done over all these years,” Kohli added.