It was humungous. It was historic. But it was never unthinkable, especially for the last five or six years. Virat Kohli going past Sachin Tendulkar’s 49 ODI centuries was on the cards. Very few batters have dominated world cricket in all three formats like Kohli has but if one is asked to choose a format where they would want Kohli to bat for their lives, it is likely to be the ODIs. Kohli has bossed 50-over cricket. Even when his runs dried up in other formats between 2019 and 2022, he was going strong in ODIs. Therefore, when the moment finally came and that too in a World Cup semi-final against New Zealand, dare we say, it seemed inevitable. Kohli became the first cricketer to reach 50 centuries in ODI cricket.
The format may not be the most favourable one right now but one can bet that he is likely to add a few more to that tally before finishing as an international cricketer. But the real challenge for Kohli is to get past Tendulkar’s 100 international centuries. He has 80 right now. India only have five ODIs scheduled next year and there is still no clarity about his T20I future – he hasn’t played that format since December 2022. If Kohli has to match or go past Tendulkar then he will majorly have to bank on red-ball cricket. If he continues to play at full fitness for the next four years, he will have to score five centuries each year to match Tendulkar. That is not easy.
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That is exactly why, despite being a big fan of Kohli’s batting, the legendary Brian Lara is not optimistic about it. “How old is Kohli now? 35, right? He has 80 but still needs 20. If he scores five centuries every year he’d need four more years to equal Tendulkar. Kohli will be 39 then. Tough job, very tough job,” Lara told Anandabazar Patrika.
‘Kohli will break many records but 100 centuries seems difficult’: Lara
The former West Indies captain said it doesn’t seem logical from a cricketing perspective. “Can’t say with certainty, no one can. Those saying Kohli will break Tendulkar’s 100-centuries record won’t be taking cricketing logic into account. 20 centuries seem a long way away. Most cricketers can’t score that in their entire career. I won’t be adventurous and say Kohli will do it,” he added. “Age doesn’t stop for anyone. Kohli will break many more records but 100 centuries seems the most difficult one.”
Lara, however, didn’t forget to mention that if anyone can do it, it is Kohli. “Only Kohli can come close. I’m a big fan of his discipline and dedication. The way he prepares for a match by giving it his all… how can you not be his fan,” he added.
“My best wishes are with him. I’d be very happy if he could score 100 centuries like Tendulkar. Sachin was a dear friend and like I said before, I’m a big fan of Kohli,” he said.
Kohli scored 765 runs in 11 matches in the recently concluded ODI World Cup at an average of 95.62. He is the first cricketer to notch up more than 700 runs in a single edition of a World Cup. He also slammed three centuries but many believed, he slowed down to score a couple of them. Was he playing for the milestone? Lara rubbished it. “Those are saying all these are jealous of him. They are envious of the amount of runs he has scored. I have faced this too in my career,” Lara said.