Moneycontrol PRO
you are here: HomeNewsCricket

Will Virat Kohli break Sachin Tendulkar's record for most ODI centuries this year?

With a ridiculous record of a hundred every 5.9 ODIs (for Sachin Tendulkar, that number is 9.4), Virat Kohli could become the first cricketer in the world with 50 ODI hundreds.

March 24, 2023 / 12:26 PM IST
With 25,237 runs across formats, Virat Kohli is sixth on the all-time best run scorers' list - about 3,000 runs behind Kumar Sangakkara who is placed second. (Photo: Twitter)

With 25,237 runs across formats, Virat Kohli is sixth on the all-time best run scorers' list - about 3,000 runs behind Kumar Sangakkara who is placed second. (Photo: Twitter)

Virat Kohli has finally resumed scoring hundreds again. The man who had amassed 14 hundreds in Test cricket, and another 15 in ODIs, between 2016 and 2018, had somehow stopped getting to that three-figure mark.

It was not that he was not batting well. There were glimpses of class in the 74 against Australia in Adelaide, the 72 against England in Chennai, the 79 against South Africa in Cape Town. There was also a mini-run of 55, 50, 44 in on the England tour of 2021. There were some excellent ODI innings too.

But since the global lockdown of 2020, that next hundred had remained elusive.

When Kohli finally ended his hundreds drought, it was in Twenty20 Internationals, a format where he had never got a ton before. Of the three formats, it was the one he had “least expected” (his own words) to finally get that hundred.

Soon afterwards, Kohli made an unbeaten 82 in the T20 World Cup against Pakistan, an innings that must be honoured among the greatest ever in the format. India were then knocked out of the World Cup, and Kohli missed the New Zealand tour.

Also read: Border Gavaskar Trophy: How Virat Kohli's 186 at Ahmedabad is like Sachin Tendulkar's 241 at SCG

Then, in Bangladesh last December, Kohli made his first ODI hundred in three years and four months. He quickly added two more in his next two ODIs; and last week, he finally got that long-awaited Test hundred.

Over a decade ago, the milestone-loving fans had not hesitated to combine Sachin Tendulkar’s records in Tests and ODIs to celebrate a somewhat artificially constructed feat of 100 ‘international’ hundreds – 51 in Tests, 49 in ODIs.

Adding the two numbers from five-day and one-day formats seldom makes sense, but there is little doubt that the phrase “a hundred of hundreds” is catchy.

Kohli had made 34 hundreds until the end of 2015, but by 2019, that number had zoomed to 70 – more than double. Only thirty, Kohli was captain of India at that point, and scoring hundreds with ridiculous regularity. That he could fail at some point had seemed inconceivable back then.

Yet, he did. The three-year gap pushed the discussions around Kohli emulating Tendulkar’s feat of a century of centuries somewhere into the background. The stunning rise of Rishabh Pant, Suryakumar Yadav, and Shubman Gill, too, contributed towards – for the first time in a decade – a shift of focus away from Kohli.

He has added five hundreds to his tally in the last six months, but the hundred-hundreds countdowns are yet to resume. This, even after his 72nd hundred, the one that took him past Ricky Ponting’s tally to put him at second place on the all-time list.

What seems imminent, however, is the threat on Tendulkar’s 49 ODI hundreds.

Kohli had bossed ODIs before the other two formats. This is where he had led India to an Under-19 World Cup title, in 2008; as a senior, he had established himself as one of the best ODI batters in the world long before he became a great Test batter. This is also where he can eye the big records.

Kohli has 46 ODI hundreds at this point. After the Australia series, India will play in the Asia Cup and tour the West Indies.

Australia will come over again for ODIs, and that series will be followed by the World Cup at home. India will play a minimum of nine matches in the World Cup alone, and will tour South Africa after that.

Three hundreds will help Kohli draw level with Tendulkar. A fourth will make him the first to 50 ODI hundreds.

If he does indeed get there by his 35th birthday or even a couple of months after that, who knows? Perhaps he might even get to 60. Remember, we are discussing someone who, despite a three-year barren phase, boasts of a ridiculous record of a hundred every 5.9 ODIs (for Tendulkar, that number is 9.4).

But hundreds are not the only records that await Kohli. His 12,813 runs are the fifth-most in the world. In ODI history, he is behind only Tendulkar (18,426), Kumar Sangakkara (14,234), Ricky Ponting (13,704), and Sanath Jayasuriya (13,430). Barring unforeseen circumstances, Kohli should be able to secure at least the second place.

What about displacing Tendulkar? Kohli scores 47 runs per ODI (matches, not innings). At that rate, he needs to play another 119 matches. That seems unlikely, for the focus will shift towards Twenty20 after the World Cup. India will almost certainly rest him for most bilateral ODI series they play to monitor his workload.

What Kohli can also eye are the fifty-plus scores. He has gone past fifty 110 times in ODIs. That count is not too far behind the tallies of Sangakkara (118) or Ponting (112), though with 145, Tendulkar is some distance away.

What about the other formats? In Test cricket, his 8,416 runs are some way down the global list, but he features quite high on the Indian list. He should not need much time to go past Virender Sehwag (8,856 runs) and V.V.S. Laxman (8,781).

It is perhaps too early for predictions on Kohli going past Sunil Gavaskar’s 10,122, let alone Rahul Dravid (13,288) and Tendulkar (15,921).

However, if he does regain form, he will almost certainly improve on his 28 Test hundreds. He may threaten Gavaskar’s 34 and Dravid’s 36, though Tendulkar’s 51 is likely to stand for some time.

Whether Kohli’s batting approach is quick enough for Twenty20 is debatable. Yet, at the time of writing, he remains the only batter with 4,000 runs in T20Is.

With 25,237 runs across formats, Kohli is sixth on the all-time list. If that seems too low, it must be remembered that Sangakkara, placed second, has 28,016, and is certainly not beyond Kohli’s reach – even if he quits one of the two shorter formats at international level.

Abhishek Mukherjee
first published: Mar 19, 2023 07:37 am