Will he do it? Or won’t he? Only Father Time has the answer.
However, Virat Kohli has taken the first step towards the great Sachin Tendulkar’s tally of 100 hundreds. He became the joint fastest to 50 centuries in international cricket.
The Indian skipper came in at a difficult time with India trying to gain an upper hand in the first Test against Sri Lanka at Kolkata. But wickets began to fall at frequent intervals on a green, cracked pitch at the other end. However, Kohli kept calm, soaking up the pressure put on by the Sri Lankan bowlers. He defended hard, left the ball outside the off stump well and kept the scoreboard ticking.
Runs were as important as time and Kohli was in the groove to achieve that. Statistics reveal that while Kohli got 104 out of 119 balls during his stay, six wickets fell at the other end for just 56. This was his 18th hundred, brought up with a nice flat six and a celebratory roar.
Kohli has joined South Africa’s Hashim Amla as the fastest to that landmark, both taking 348 innings for that. The great Sachin Tendulkar took 376 innings to achieve the milestone.
At age 29, Kohli is half-way there to get to Tendulkar’s aggregate of 100 centuries. This can happen if Kohli maintains form and fitness over the next seven to eight years.
But it will not be easy. There are many factors which will create hurdles. First of all, there is this perception that Test cricket is losing its charm. Who knows what will happen to this form of cricket over the next few years.
The International Cricket Council has been mulling four-day Tests and a sort of Test championship. This may indirectly reduce the number of Test matches. One-day cricket may give Kohli a window of opportunity to score a few hundreds but it won’t be easy in the shorter format.
Getting a hundred in a Twenty20 game is extremely difficult due to the lack of overs. The biggest factors, however, are going to be age and burnout. Kohli is at the peak of his career now, his body and mind co-ordinating perfectly. But as time goes by, this factor will suffer, particularly due to the sheer number of games being played.
Kohli is already seeking a break next month, stating that he is not a robot.India also play a lot of games and added to that there is the Indian Premier League (IPL) with matches galore.
Players do not have an easy time as such. The IPL cannot be ignored because that means money. Indians love the shorter format and there are loads of those games as well.
Will Kohli survive all that? More often than not, players fall back on bad habits as they grow older. Will the old troubles outsider the off stump haunt Kohli again?
Most importantly will Kohli be able to focus on the game in the future, given the added burden of captaincy? These are pressing questions which will confront Kohli as he gets into the wrong side of 30. One can safely assume that Kohli can easily play until 40, given his level of fitness. The flesh may remain strong but it will be the mind which will dictate the terms
Judging by his current form and fitness, Kohli could well get to the magic hundred, mind and body willing. The ball lies in his court.