Virat Kohli’s 49th ton of his ODI career, an unbeaten 101, helped India post a mammoth total of 326/5 in 50 overs in the ICC ODI World Cup against South Africa at the Eden Gardens, here on Sunday.
After skipper Rohit Sharma had elected to bat first and posted 62 runs for the opening wicket, Kohli notched up his 49th ODI century, equalling the legendary Sachin Tendulkar's record and helped his side post a competitive total on a tricky-looking surface.
Rohit Sharma had led the charge with the bat as he gave his side a sensational start. He along with Shubman Gill played some fantastic shots upfront and made full use of the fielding restrictions. The South African bowlers were carted around as the Indian openers scored above 10 runs per over and brought up 50 runs of the partnership in no time.
Experienced Kagiso Rabada was brought into the attack and he struck in his very first over by dismissing the Indian skipper. who fell after scoring 40 off 24 balls as the 62-run opening stand came to an end in the sixth over.
Rohit also went past West Indies legend Chris Gayle and now equals AB de Villiers' record of most ODI sixes in a calendar year with 58 sixes. The 36-year-old took 23 innings to reach the milestone, taking five more than de Villiers.
Birthday boy Virat Kohli walked into bat at three and helped India finish the powerplay on 91 for 1 which is also the second-most runs South Africa have conceded in the first 10 overs in the tournament. Against Sri Lanka, they had given away 94 for 2.
Keshav Maharaj cleaned up the well-set Gill on 23 with a ripper of delivery in the 11th over. Shreyas Iyer joined Kohli at the crease and started building a partnership.
The Proteas bowled beautifully in the middle phase. The boundaries dried up and kept a check on the scoring rate. After scoring 91 in the first powerplay, the hosts managed to score only 33 runs in the next 10 overs. Iyer struggled in rotating strike and the boundaries dried up. The pair of Kohli and Iyer stitched a 50-run stand but took close to 15 overs to bring it up.
Iyer started cutting loose and played some good shots to raise the tempo and bring up his fifty off 64 balls. As soon as both brought up their respective milestones, they started cutting loose and the runs started flowing for the hosts.
Both Kohli and Iyer hit regular boundaries before the latter miscued one and fell after scoring 77 off 87 balls. KL Rahul joined Kohli but struggled to get going and fell on eight while trying to clear the fence.
South Africa kept up bowling beautifully as the slog overs approached and the Indian batters felt the pressure.
Suryakumar Yadav played a very good cameo of 22 off 14 balls before departing, courtesy of a brilliant catch by Quinton de Kock. Kohli brought up his ton off 119 balls to equal Sachin Tendulkar as the batter with the most centuries in ODI cricket. He reached the milestone with a punched single to extra cover off Rabada in the 49th over.
Having started briskly - he was on 18 off 14 with four fours - Kohli slowed down considerably after the powerplay. The South Africa spinners -- Maharaj, Tabraiz Shamsi, and Aiden Markram - really tied him down, allowing just 42 runs, and a solitary four, off 64 balls. But Kohli hung in, picked up the pace once the seamers returned, and brought up his hundred off 119 balls
He remained unbeaten on 101 and Ravindra Jadeja played a very good cameo of 29 not out off 15 balls to take India to 326 at the end of their 50 overs.
Keshav Maharaj was the standout bowler for South Africa. He picked up a wicket and conceded only 30 runs in his 10 overs. Kagiso Rabada also bowled beautifully and registered figures of 1-48. Marco Jansen and Tabraiz Shamsi were on the expensive side.
The bowlers were still wayward as they conceded 22 wides. Only once have South Africa bowled more wides in an ODI - 25 against Zimbabwe in 2000 - while they gave away 21 against Kenya in 2008
India 326/5 in 50 overs (Virat Kohli 101 not out, Shreyas Iyer 77, Rohit Sharma 40; Keshav Maharaj 1-30, Kagiso Rabada 1-48) against South Africa.