'Every opportunity to play for India is a big one.'
Virat Kohli thanked the Almighty for the blessings showered on him after scoring his 49th ODI century on his 35th birthday, which put him on par with the legendary Sachin Tendulkar, saying the historic moment in the ICC World Cup match against South Africa at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata is "stuff of dreams".
A decade after Tendulkar walked away from international cricket, having set the record of most international centuries in 50-overs' cricket, Kohli caught up with the batting legend with yet another crucial performance.
His 121-ball 101, which included 10 fours, propelled India to 326 for 5 on a sluggish surface.
Shreyas Iyer and skipper Rohit Sharma also played a big hand in the huge total, scoring 77 and 40 respectively.
"Every opportunity to play for India is a big one; to be able to ton up on my birthday is stuff of dreams. Grateful to God that I've been blessed with such moments," Kohli told the tournament's broadcaster after India's innings.
Tendulkar was quick to wish Kohli on the achievement.
"Well played Virat. It took me 365 days to go from 49 to 50 earlier this year. I hope you go from 49 to 50 and break my record in the next few days. Congratulations!!" he posted on X (formerly Twitter).
Kohli played the anchor while the others batted around him after India's progression slowed down with the pitch slowing down.
Talking about the innings, Kohli said, "It was a wicket that was tricky to bat on. We got a great start. My job was to keep the momentum going when I got in. But, after ten overs, the ball started gripping, and the wicket started slowing down.
"My role was to bat deep and till the end after the openers fell because that's what I've done; that was the communication as well - to have guys bat around me.
"Shreyas starting hitting well as well. We were not thinking we would get to 326, but that's what happens when you dig deep and take the game into the last few overs," he said.
The time spent batting in training sessions before the Asia Cup helped him and Iyer during their 134-run stand for the third wicket.
"Shreyas and I had a lot of practice sessions before the Asia Cup and invariably batted together at 3 and 4. Both of us are comfortable against spinners. Both of us are comfortable rotating strike against spinners, credit to him for putting away bad balls," he added.