KOLKATA: Virat Kohli's legendary status in world cricket grew further when the Indian captain smashed his 50th International century, which steered his side to safety in the first Test against Sri Lanka.
True to his aggressive demeanour and style, Kohli got to his 18th Test hundred with a flat and powerful six over extra cover off paceman Suranga Lakmal and let out a big roar, going down on his knees to celebrate the moment much like former England batsman Kevin Pietersen.
In the list of most number of centuries, Kohli sits at number eighth behind Brian Lara (53), Mahela Jayawardene (54), Hashim Amla (54), Jaques Kallis (62), Kumar Sangakkara (63) Ricky Ponting (71) and iconic Sachin Tendulkar (100), who is the only cricketer to get 100 international hundreds.
With 18 Test hundred to his name, Kohli has now gone ahead of Dilip Vengsarkar (17) but is still behind Mohammed Azharuddin (22), Virender Sehwag (23), Sunil Gavaskar (34), Rahul Dravid (36) and Tendulkar (51).
The Indian skipper also joined South African great Hashim Amla as the fastest to 50 centuries in International cricket in 348 innings.
The second in the list is Sachin Tendulkar (376 innings), who is followed by Ricky Ponting (420) and Brian Lara (465).
The Indian skipper, whose previous best at Eden Gardens was 45, survived an LBW decision on 72 against his first innings nemesis Suranga Lakmal and got it overturned by taking a DRS call.
After being circumspect against Lakmal, the Indian skipper slowly came on his own and hammered him for a six with an inside-out shot to get to the 90s.
Looking unperturbed, Kohli once again took on the Lankan pace spearhead with a gorgeous horizontal six over covers to raise his hundred and declared the Indian second innings at 352 for eight setting Sri Lanka a target of 231.
This was also his first Test hundred at the Eden Gardens as his average also shot past 50.
Kohli now has nine International centuries in 2017, the most by him in any year as well as the most number of ducks (five) by him in any year. His previous highest was eight centuries in 2012 and in 2014.
Former Australia captain Ricky Ponting had notched nine International 100s twice in 2005 and 2006, and Smith once in 2005.
Kohli is the also the first Indian captain to score a duck and a century in the same Test.
He has 21 International century as captain in 98 innings, behind South African Graeme Smith's 41 (368 innings) and Aussie great Ricky Ponting's feat of 41 (376 innings).