Virat Kohli ended his four-year century drought in the Indian Premier League (IPL) with a majestic 100 off 63 deliveries against Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) on Thursday. Fans welcomed the Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) superstar's blistering hundred at the Rajiv Gandhi Stadium in Hyderabad with endless memes on the internet.

 

En route to his ton, Virat Kohli equaled his former teammate Chris Gayle's record for the most centuries in the IPL. The 34-year-old iconic batter struck his sixth hundred of the premier T20 competition to secure the vital two points for his franchise.

Virat Kohli, who shared a 172-run opening partnership with RCB skipper Faf du Plessis looked in spectacular touch from start to finish as he toyed with SRH's bowlers, eventually departed for a scintillating 100 off 63 balls.

However, by the time Virat Kohli left the crease, he had sealed the match for RCB as Aiden Markram and his boys had no answer to the former India captain's onslaught.

From the word go, it looked like Virat Kohli's night in Hyderabad as he began his knock with two gorgeous drives against Bhuvneshwar Kumar in the opening over of their run chase.

Afterward, there was no looking back for Virat Kohli as the master batter flicked, drove, cut, pulled, and lofted the ball over the boundary, both with elan and comfort.

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Virat Kohli's masterful knock included a massive 103-meter six that went miles into the stands.

With his century against SRH, Virat Kohli drew level with Chris Gayle for the most tons in IPL history. Both players have six three-figure scores in the event.

Also, Virat Kohli went past Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul to become the Indian batter with the most T20 hundreds to his name. While Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul have six centuries each in the format, Virat Kohli took his tally to seven. While he has scored six in the IPL, the ex-India skipper made one for Team India in the Asia Cup last year.

Before his knock against SRH, Virat Kohli came in for heavy criticism for his slow batting in IPL 2023, with even RCB hopefuls taking a dig at him multiple times. Some went on to say that Virat Kohli was batting like a Test match specialist in T20 cricket.

The ex-RCB skipper hit back at his critics in style, letting his bat do all the talking in the match against SRH.

“Quite special considering the magnitude of the game. We saw the ball was gripping in the middle. We wanted a solid start but did not expect to be 172 for no loss. That's how well Faf and I have played, he's been on a different level. I had a quiet couple of games and wasn't hitting as well in the game as I was in the nets. My intent from ball 1 was to go after the bowlers. There was a dip but I wanted to take it up in the right time. Happy that it all came together nicely,” Virat Kohli told former India wicketkeeper Deep Dasgupta in the post-match presentation ceremony.

“I was telling the boys – the way I'm looked at as an IPL player as well is like ‘yeah, he's fine, a few impact knocks'. But it's my 6th IPL hundred. I don't give enough credit to myself. I never look at past records (not great numbers against SRH).”

“I put myself under so much stress already. I don't care what anyone says on the outside, because that's their opinion. It's like… when you are in that situation yourself, you know how to win games of cricket and I've done that for a long period of time. It's not like I don't win games for my team. It's playing the situation (that) I take pride in,” he added.

“I've never been a guy who plays so many fancy shots and throws my wicket away. It's Test cricket (coming up) after the IPL, so I have to stay true to my technique. When I can make impact in an important game, it gives me confidence, and gives the team confidence,” Virat Kohli elaborated.

Meanwhile, Chris Gayle, whose record Virat Kohli broke, showered accolades on his former RCB Colleague. The Universe Boss said he was lonely at the top of the pile, but with Virat Kohli joining him there with six centuries, he would now get good company.

“Welcome young man and welcome to the highest century makers club. I was bored. I was lonely and bored. I was like ‘I need some company at the top'. Now I have got it and we can have a talk now, Virat,” Chris Gayle said on JioCinema on Friday.

“He was so aggressive from ball one. When he hit that first boundary, he was like ‘it's my day today and I am going to make it count'. He delivered for his team. Virat seldom plays a lot of sweep, but to see him play sweeps against left-arm spinners was lovely. It was a superb innings and he was complemented by Faf as well,” Chris Gayle pointed out.

On the other hand, former India opener Aakash Chopra was awestruck by Virat Kohli's selection of shots against SRH.

“He is India's honor, he is India's pride, his name is Virat Kohli and he is the king of centuries. Welcome him with applause because we got to see the vintage Virat Kohli on the Hyderabad ground. This was the best of Virat that we have seen. The most valuable player of the game between Hyderabad and Bangalore was Virat Kohli. What a knock he played. When the first innings was on, I didn't have any doubts that Heinrich Klaasen is going to be the one. Other guys might score runs and Bangalore might win as well but the way Klaasen hit that century, I thought it wasn't possible to see a better innings in the same evening but Kohli came,” Aakash Chopra said on his YouTube channel.

“He first started with a drive, then hit in the air, both against Bhuvneshwar Kumar, and then he got an inside edge and was I thinking whether he was going too hard too soon, but after that he sent the ball to the moon. This knock was sensational. Some shots were incredible, shots that Kohli doesn't play. Kohli doesn't sit and hit a six against spin. We saw that shot. He flicked a six against Bhuvi and a short-arm pull that went for a 100-meter six. The on-the-rise drives he hit, the fielders in the deep were also unable to stop those,” Aakash Chopra summed up.