Images from the ICC World Cup match between India and South Africa at the Eden Gardens, in Kolkata, on Sunday.
Virat Kohli gave his fans the perfect birthday treat, finally scoring his highly-anticipated 49th ODI century, which powered India to an above-par 326 for 5 against South Africa in the World Cup match in Kolkata on Sunday.
A frenzied response, South Africa’s resurgence and the agony of missing maestro Sachin Tendulkar’s record-equalling 49th ODI ton twice in three innings was an ideal setting to the match on Kohli’s 35th birthday.
India’s run-machine, who was out for 95 and 88 against New Zealand and Sri Lanka, did not disappoint an ecstatic Eden Gardens full house while providing the perfect icing on the cake with a historic century on a difficult Eden track.
The monkey was finally off his back in the 49th over when he gently pushed Kagiso Rabada for a single and followed it up with his
usual quiet celebration nowadays.
The hundred off 119 balls, was studded with 10 fours. He finished unbeaten on 101 off 121 deliveries.
Kohli attained the milestone in 277 innings, while Tendulkar brought up his 49th ODI century in 452.
The relief was evident as he took his helmet off, kissed his bat and saluted the crowd, which gave him a standing ovation, their smartphone flash guns lighting up the atmosphere.
The century seemed assured this time when Kohli crunched Rabada through covers in the previous overs to race to 97.
Barring Keshav Maharaj, who bowled his full quota at a stretch, no other bowler could create an impact on an different looking Eden wicket that became slower as the game progressed and aided spin.
The Proteas suffered a setback as pacer Lungi Ngidi limped off and was unable to complete his over. Marco Jansen also looked wayward and leaked eight in extras.
Unlike any other day, the dry pitch, on a hazy overcast evening, offered vicious turn and South Africa were quick to bring on their ace spinner Maharaj right after the powerplay.
India’s turbo-charged start by Rohit Shrma was already halted by Kagiso Rabada’s wicket-maiden first over, and Maharaj produced a classical left-arm spin to remove the in-form Gill (23 off 24 balls).
That delivery dipped so much that it enticed Gill to come forward, but the ball turned away sharply to clip the top of the stumps, leaving the Indian opener in utter disbelief.
Well-aware of Kohli’s weakness against Maharaj, the South African skipper had the left-arm spinner go non-stop at one end, but Kohli navigated the phase well in an intriguing battle against Maharaj.
Shreyas Iyer played a tortoise-like innings and looked to be the weak link, but Kohli guarded him well in an exceptional Test-match like alliance.
The Birthday Boy also survived a review for caught behind on 37 when he pushed defensively at a snorter from Maharaj, as the Proteas appealed for a caught-behind.
Replays showed no spike on UltraEdge, in the only opportunity for Maharaj, who made the most the conditions, only to be restrained with figures of 10-0-30-1 under sheer brilliance of Kohli, who scored 16 off 29 balls against him.
That South Africa’s second spinner, Tabraiz Shamsi, could not make full use of the conditions unlike his Chepauk show, helped the Indian duo.
While Kohli and Iyer played with respect against Maharaj, they were happy to take charge against Shamsi.
Kohli brought up his fifty off 67 balls — his sixth in eight innings in the World Cup — in Maharaj’s last over, while
Opting to bat, skipper Rohit gave India a blistering start before South Africa arrested the run flow with one wicket each by Rabada and Maharaj.
At a venue where he has the ODI World record score of 264, Rohit smashed a 24-ball 40 before Bavuma’s terrific catch at mid-off halted his innings.
Rohit smashed Rabada powerfully through covers, but the South Africa skipper held firmly to the ball in front of his eyes.
India’s skipper quickly got off the blocks after surviving on duck off a Lungi Ngidi delivery that hit him high on the thigh pad. Since then it was a one-way traffic for Rohit, who took Ngidi and Marco Jansen to cleaners.
Lanky leftarm pacer Jansen, who was South Africa’s main bowler in the powerplay, bowled a lot of freebies and was wayward.
With Rohit taking charge on him, his figures read 4-0-43-0 — the first time Jansen went wicketless in the powerplay that yielded 91 runs for India.
- World Cup 2023
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