Virat Kohli on Monday added another feather in his cap as he stormed past Sachin Tendulkar’s record of 13000 ODI runs and became the fastest to the landmark during the Asia Cup 2023 Super Four match between India and Pakistan. The former India captain, resuming his innings from overnight on the reserve day, first brought up a half-century of 55 balls and then took just 29 more to notch up 47th ODI century. In the process, Kohli breezed past the legendary Tendulkar to the accomplishment in his 267th innings. This makes him the fastest batter to 8000, 9000, 10000, 11000, 120000 and now 13000 ODI runs.
That Kohli scaled Mount 13K in 54 fewer innings that Tendulkar (321 innings), adds weightage to the Virat vs Sachin debate. Kohli’s 47th century means that he is now just two short of trying his idol for the most ODI centuries and three before he eclipsed the great man to reach 50 one-day tons, which is a magnanimous feat in itself. Kohli’s love affair with Pakistan allowed India to score a mammoth 356/2, with KL Rahul striking a century himself, the 6th of his ODI career. Kohli and Rahul added an unbeaten 233 runs for the third wicket, the highest ever in Asia Cup history for any wicket. This is also Kohli’s fourth consecutive hundred at Colombo’s R. Premadasa Stadium.
Before the match, Kohli, with 12902 runs, needed 98 runs, eight of which he knocked off on Sunday when rain ensure no play was possible after 24.1 overs in which India had put up 147/2. And on Monday, on a belter of a batting surface, he cashed in. Kohli began cautiously, as did his partner KL Rahul but deep down, both were aware that technically Pakistan are a bowler short with Haris Rauf suggested to not bowl any further in a game. So when Iftikhar Ahmed came to bowl his juicy off-breaks filling in for Rauf, the shackles were broken with Rahul kickstarting the onslaught bringing up a fabulous century partnership.
With Rahul galloping along nicely, Kohli got his eye in, and found his timing against Shaheen Afridi’s pace. Despite finding his timing, Kohli couldn’t piece the gaps, and the frustration was evident on his face everytime he connected the ball but couldn’t eke out a run. But the moment Rahul slowed down a little around the 40-over mark, it was Kohli’s turn to explode. Off Iftikhar’s last over, Kohli cracked him for a six and a four to enter the 70s. It was his seventh boundary-hitting stroke.
Throughout his innings, Kohli kept looking towards the skies, keeping one eye on the clouds. He was aware that if there is rain on horizon, which there is, India needed to get as many as possible so that if it comes down to DLS, Pakistan are set a mammoth target. He and Rahul did exactly that as India continued to score in surplus of six runs an over. His first four wasn’t convincing as he edged Naseem Shah for boundary behind the wicketkeeper. Pakistan burned their second review against Kohli and it was almost as if he knew he had to punish them.
Initially Kohli struggled a little against Faheem Ashraf, but three boundaries later, everything was right. As Rahul played a few dot balls on 98, Kohli raced from 86 to 97. A couple took him to 99 and a single the next ball brought back a vintage Kohli celebration. Kohli wrapped up the Indian innings with back-to-back boundaries and a six off the final three deliveries, capping off a wonderful batting performance by India, one that saw them register a join-highest ODI total against Pakistan.