Virat Kohli made his 35th birthday a memorable one as his unbeaten century helped India complete another thumping win at the World Cup, this time against in-form South Africa in Kolkata by a huge margin of 243 runs on Sunday.
The match was seen as a clash between two of the best teams in the tournament but India dominated the match from start to finish, first posting an above par 326-5 on a slow Eden Gardens pitch, thanks to a masterful 101 not out from Kohli.
India's bowlers, led by spinner Ravindra Jadeja (5-33), then turned on the afterburners to dismiss the mighty South African batting line-up for just 83 in 27.1 overs to complete a sensational win.
However, the day belonged to Kohli, who equaled the great Sachin Tendulkar's record of 49 ODI centuries.
"Every opportunity to play for India is a big one and to do this on my birthday in front of a huge crowd is the stuff of dreams. It is something you dream about as a child," said Kohli.
"I am just happy to help the team as much as possible."
Kohli said the wicket was extremely challenging once the ball got older as bowlers got grip and timing became difficult. The star batsman said his job was to bat until the end and allow others to score around him.
"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 10 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," he explained.
"Well played Virat," Tendulkar posted on X, formerly Twitter.
"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," Tendulkar added, having celebrated his 50th birthday in April.
South Africa's chase of 327 began poorly as they lost half their side for 40 runs inside 14 overs as Jadeja and Mohammed Shami (2-18) ran through their line up. The Proteas were bundled out for 83, their second defeat while chasing in the tournament.
Jadeja was almost unplayable on a surface that offered turn throughout the day. He started off by castling captain Temba Bavuma with a classic ball that beat his defence and disturbed the stumps. From there, it was a procession of wickets for spinners and pacers.
Mohammad Siraj (1-11) and Kuldeep Yadav (2-7) also played their part in the big win, with Yadav completing the victory by clean bowling Lungi Ngidi off a googly.
But the day belonged to Kohli.
His unbeaten 101 contained 10 fours as he continued his superb form by taking his tally past 500 runs in the tournament.
Kohli dropped anchor in a solid third-wicket stand of 134 with Shreyas Iyer, who hit 77 with seven fours and two sixes, before making his ton in the 49th alongside some late hitting by Jadeja (29 not out).
India captain Rohit Sharma, who set the tone for the match with a quick 40 off just 24 balls, lauded Kohli for the application that he showed.
"If we look at how we played in the last three games, we adapted to the situation. We were put under pressure against England. In the last game (against Sri Lanka), we lost a wicket in the first over but got to a good score. Today was not an easy pitch, you needed someone like Kohli, who batted to the situation. Not to forget Shreyas. It's important to let guys have freedom in the middle," he said.