Virat Kohli brought up his 46th ODI century against Sri Lanka in Greenfield International Stadium on Sunday. Kohli is now just four ODI centuries away from breaking Sachin Tendulkar’s record for most hundreds in the format. Kohli has 46 ODI centuries, whereas Tendulkar has scored 49 ODI hundreds in his career.
Against Sri Lanka at Thiruvananthapuram, he scored his third ODI 100 in the last four innings of the format. But that’s somewhat of a misnomer. In a friendly against Bangladesh last month after his first 100 games, Kohli admitted things didn’t go his way.
Then, in his first ODI against Sri Lanka, he further defeated his century. It was an attacking innings, but it wasn’t perfect. He was pardoned twice, on the 52nd and 81st.
But his shot on Sunday (unbeaten in 166 balls out of 110) was perfect. He was as clinical as ever. The only time he looked close to exit was when he tipped Lahiru Kumara for 82 heading into Long-on. The fielder was a few yards over the line and despite his leaping the ball he hit a 6. Kohli reached his half-century on 48 balls and needed only 37 more to reach his 46th ODI century. By the end of the year, he could even break Tendulkar’s record of 49 and become the first hitter to record his ODI hundred of 50.
Cori also batted in his first ODI with a similar batting average. He put his 50 in 47 balls and 100 in 80 balls. But then he seemed to run on steam. That was not the case on Sunday. In fact, he seamlessly shifted into a higher gear. In the 25 balls he faced after hitting hundreds, he hit three fours and seven sixes. One of those six was a helicopter shot by a slower ball from Rajitha.
He took only 21 balls in his third 50-ball run. His 106-ball 150 is his second-fastest 150 in India, trailing only Ishankishan’s 103-ball performance in which he made two centuries against Bangladesh last month. In total, Kohli hit eight sixes. Most of it was his ODI.
His latest T20 range may not have room for an anchor. However, ODI does. At least for now.
His ODI innings, more than twice as long as his T20 innings, carry a higher wicket premium. An anchor holds one end to allow the power hitter to play the game. And if that anchor is Kohli who can accelerate in Deathover like he did in Thiruvananthapuram, he becomes indispensable.
Before the 2022 Asian Cup, there were three years in which Kohli failed to reach his 100 mark in international competition. According to Kohli, a 42-day hiatus from cricket between the England tour and the start of the Asian Cup has put him back in a great state of mind and his current form is exactly the result.