Mumbai (AFP) – India’s cricketing superstar Virat Kohli on Wednesday reached a landmark 50 ODI centuries to surpass Sachin Tendulkar’s all-time record in the World Cup semi-final against New Zealand.
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AFP Sports takes a look at six highs and lows of his career.
Kohli made his ODI debut in 2008 but took a year to stamp his class with a century against Sri Lanka at Kolkata’s Eden Gardens.
A 21-year-old Kohli was already marked as a special player and came into bat at number four after Virender Sehwag, Tendulkar and Gautam Gambhir.
He hit 107 and was involved in a 224-run third-wicket stand with Gambhir, who hit an unbeaten 150, as India chased down a target of 316 with 11 balls and seven wickets to spare.
The knock established Kohli as a dependable batsman and the birth of his reputation as a “chase master”.
World Cup win
Alongside the likes of Tendulkar and skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni, he was part of the team which won the 2011 World Cup, ending a 28-year wait for India.
Kohli played his part with 282 runs, including an unbeaten 100 against Bangladesh.
In the final, Kohli contributed with a vital 35 as India chased down their victory target of 275 with 10 balls to spare as Dhoni hit the winning six.
He later carried Tendulkar on his shoulders during the victory lap and teammate Irfan Pathan said “he now stands shoulder to shoulder with the Master Blaster”.
Captaincy and fame
After being understudy to Dhoni, Kohli took over the Test captaincy after the veteran wicketkeeper-batsman’s shock retirement in December 2014 and became all-format leader in 2017.
He also became a global brand, breaking into the Forbes list of highest paid athletes as the only cricketer with total earnings of $26 million.
His fan base rose to millions on social media and scenes of people invading the pitch to touch his feet or take selfies became regular occurences at Indian venues.
Madame Tussauds in London even unveiled a waxwork of Kohli at Lord’s in 2019.
Kohli has been the poster boy of Indian cricket for the past decade but he has also been involved in controversies.
He has never shied away from on-field verbal duels and had an infamous run-in with Steve Smith during a Test in Benguluru when the Australian captain was seen looking up to the dressing room over a reviewing decision.
Kohli had reservations over the coaching style of former India Test captain Anil Kumble who quit as national team coach due his “untenable” relationship with the star player.
He has also courted controversy during the IPL — this year he was involved in heated exchanges with Afghanistan’s Naveen-ul-Haq and Lucknow coach Gautam Gambhir.
Kohli’s inability to win a world title rankled his critics who slammed his leadership skills in the limited-overs format.
An extended lean patch saw him fail to reach three figures in over 1,000 days and that raised more concerns.
He quit as T20 skipper in late 2021 and was soon sacked from the ODI captaincy. Later, he claimed he learnt 90 minutes before a team selection announcement about his removal from the 50-over job.
India’s cricket board and chief Sourav Ganguly refuted the claims and the relationship between the two men soured. Kohli left the Test captaincy in 2022.
The dry run with the bat and the captaincy saga took a toll on Kohli who later revealed he struggled with his mental health.
Kohli later spoke about “faking intensity” during his batting slump and how he had been “snappy” around his Bollywood actress wife Anushka Sharma.
“For the first time in 10 years, I didn’t touch my bat for a month,” Kohli told Star Sports after he took a break from cricket.
Kohli hit back with his first international century after 1,020 days during the T20 Asia Cup in 2022 and later spoke about being in a “happy space”.
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