Virat Kohli can break Sachin Tendulkar's ODI record, insists Sourav Ganguly
What's the story?
Former Indian skipper Sourav Ganguly has backed Virat Kohli to overhaul Sachin Tendulkar's all-time record tally of 49 ODI centuries. Hailing the star batsman's relentless determination, the erstwhile opener went on to place him on the same pedestal as the legendary Mumbaikar in the annals of the 50-over format.
In a candid chat with India Today, Ganguly affirmed, "It (Kohli breaking Tendulkar's record) is possible and you cannot rule that out. We will have to wait and see but 19 hundreds is a long way and (most) people do not get 19 hundreds in their (entire) careers."
However, the venerated 45-year old played down the importance of personal landmarks and asserted, "But I think we should forget about hundreds, forget about whether he (Kohli) gets to Tendulkar or not because probably he is as good as Tendulkar when it comes to ODI cricket. He is a fantastic batsman, he will continue to score runs and keep winning a lot of matches for India. He is in his late 20's now and is going to get older and will be in his mid thirties in a few years. He is a very fit cricketer so I do not think age will be a factor for him."
During the first ODI against New Zealand at the Wankhede Stadium on Sunday, Kohli brought up his 31st century in the 50-over format and moved past Ricky Ponting's tally of 30 tons to slot in at second place in the all-time list. Only Tendulkar, with a whopping 49 centuries, has scored more ODI tons than the dashing right-hander from Delhi.
The heart of the matter
The opening ODI against the Blackcaps was also the 200th appearance in the 50-over format for Kohli. Despite anchoring the Indian innings with a sublime 125-ball 121 on a tricky surface, he saw his valiant knock go in vain as the duo of Tom Latham and Ross Taylor helped the visitors cruise to the target. In fact, this was the first instance of a Kohli century coming in a losing cause in ODIs on home soil.
Upon making his debut against Sri Lanka in 2008, Kohli has grown in stature with each passing season. Admirable dedication to fitness and devotion to the game have helped the Indian captain establish himself as one of the modern-day greats in ODI cricket. Among all batsmen with at least 2000 runs, Kohli's astounding average of 55.55 is the best in the history of the 50-over format.
With India's proud home record at stake, the pressure will be on Kohli and company when the second ODI begins at the Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium in Pune on Wednesday. Another victory for Kane Williamson's troops will see them become the first New Zealand team to win a bilateral ODI series on Indian soil.
While it has to be said that he stands a solid chance of overtaking Tendulkar's record tally of ODI centuries, Kohli is not the one to care about personal milestones. The only blemish in his splendid record lies in tournament finals, wherein he is yet to score a half-century from 8 attempts. An emphatic performance in the 2019 World Cup should seal his legacy in the 50-over format. For now, his stellar impact on bilateral ODI matches is certainly as significant as Tendulkar's.