The long wait ended on Thursday, not just for Virat Kohli, but also for world cricket. Since his last three-figure feat in November 2019, Kohli waited for 1019 days and 83 innings across formats for his next century, his 71st in international cricket. And it came in a format, Kohli least expected. Pakistan legend Shoaib Akhtar, who have been among the veterans who had backed Kohli to bounce back from his century drought, hailed the India batter’s phenomenal return before he issued a stern warning to him while challenging him to equal Sachin Tendulkar’s greatest ever feat in world cricket.
At one stage in his career, Kohli looked certain to go well past Sachin’s elusive tally of 100 centuries across formats. Kohli was notching up centuries at will, rewriting records books and breaking each of Sachin’s previously-held milestone. That was all before he suffered an unlikely phase in his career, which, with each passing day, threw doubts of hos comeback and the subsequent ability to even get closer to Sachin’s feat.
However, with Kohli getting the monkey off his back, the target has once again been reset and Akhtar, speaking on his YouTube channel, admitted that the next 29 centuries will be the most difficult ones and will define his path to greatness.
“Virat Kohli, you have always spoken the truth and good things will happen with you. Remember that yeh tees centuries aapko nichod ke chodengi (these 30-odd centuries will be difficult to come). But don’t lose courage because you will end up being the greatest of all time. So keep pushing yourself,” he said.
“I have always maintained that Virat is the greatest batter of all time. But the next 29 hundreds will be a tough road for him because he took about 900 days to get from 70th to 71st ton.”
Kohli is likely to next feature in the limited-overs series against Australia and South Africa at home as India look to give final touches to their preparation for the T20 World Cup.
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