'I hope you go from...' What Sachin Tendulkar tweeted after Virat Kohli's 49th ODI ton

For Kohli, who remained unbeaten on 101, the milestone ton came in 277 innings

Virat Kohli and Sachin Tendulkar | PTI (File) Virat Kohli and Sachin Tendulkar | PTI

On his 35th birthday on Sunday, iconic Indian batter Virat Kohli smashed the 49th ODI hundred of his career to equal Master Blaster Sachin Tendulkar's record for most centuries in the format. King Kohli's unbeaten 101 off 121 powered India to above-par 326/5 against South Africa in the ICC World Cup tie at Kolkata's Eden Gardens.

Sachin Tendulkar himself was among the first to congratulate Virat Kohli for reaching the milestone. The former Indian batter, extended his greetings to Kohli on X (formerly Twitter). 

"Well played Virat.  It took me 365 days to go from 49 to 50 earlier this year. I hope you go from 49 to 50 and break my record in the next few days. Congratulations!!," the Little Master jotted alongside a photo of Kohli celebrating his century.

A decade after Tendulkar walked away from international cricket having set the record of most international centuries in 50-overs cricket, Kohli levelled up with the batting legend in delivering yet another crucial performance.

It was an ideal setting for Kohli to equal his idol after missing the magic three-figure mark earlier in the showpiece. He was dismissed for 95 and 88 against New Zealand and Sri Lanka but the Indian run-machine did not disappoint the ecastic Eden full house on Sunday.

"Every opportunity to play for India is a big one; to be able to ton up on my birthday is a stuff of dreams. Grateful to God that I've been blessed with such moments," Kohli told the broadcaster after India's innings.

"It was a wicket that was tricky to bat on. We got a great start. My job was to keep the momentum going when I got in. But, after ten overs, the ball started gripping, and the wicket started slowing down. My role was to bat deep and till the end after the openers fell because that's what I've done; that was the communication as well - to have guys bat around me," he added.

India vs South Africa World Cup game: As it happened

India posted a challenging 326/5 at the Eden Gardens in the contest between two of the tournament's top teams.

Virat Kohli in Kolkata Virat Kohli during his record-equalling knock at Kolkata's Eden Gardens | Salil Bera

For Kohli, who remained unbeaten on 101 facing 121 deliveries, the milestone ton came in 277 innings, while Tendulkar had brought up his 49th ODI century in 452 innings, though a comparison is not fair considering the different playing conditions in the two eras.

The relief was well evident as he took his helmet off, kissed his bat, and saluted the crowd that gave him a standing ovation.

India skipper Rohit Sharma (40 off 24) went about his business in his own inimitable style while Shubhman Gill (23 off 24) was cautious as the two provided a flying start to the hosts after electing to bat.

Shreyas Iyer (77) played the perfect foil while Ravindra Jadeja (29 off 15) played a crucial role in taking India past the 300-run mark.

Barring Keshav Maharaj who bowled his full quota at a stretch, no other bowler could create an impact on a different-looking Eden wicket that became slower as the game progressed and aided spin.

At a venue where he has the ODI world record score of 264, Rohit smashed bowlers all around the park before Bavuma's terrific catch at mid-off halted his innings.

Virat Kohli 49th ODI hundred Virat Kohli celebrates his ton | Salil Bera

Rohit smashed Rabada powerfully through covers, but the South Africa skipper held firmly to the ball in front of his eyes.

The dry track offered a vicious turn and South Africa were quick to bring on their ace spinner Keshav Maharaj right after the powerplay.

READ HERE | ICC World Cup: India post 326/5 against South Africa at Eden Gardens, Virat Kohli finds 49th ODI hundred

India's turbo-charged start by Rohit 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.

That ball dipped so much that it enticed Gill to come forward but then it turned away sharply to clip the top of 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. South Africa's second spinner Tabraiz Shamsi could not make full use of the conditions unlike his Chepauk show, helped the Indians.

While Kohli and Iyer played with respect against Maharaj, they were happy to take charge against Shamsi. He brought up his fifty off 67 balls -- his sixth in eight innings in the World Cup -- in Maharaj's last over.

Lanky leftarm pacer Jansen, who was South Africa's main bowler in the powerplay, bowled a lot of freebies and was wayward.

- With PTI inputs

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