Virat Kohli in sheer delight after bringing up his maiden T20 century    AFP
Virat Kohli in sheer delight after bringing up his maiden T20 century AFP

As the cricket world celebrated its legend s 43rd birthday on Sunday, Virat Kohli turned up with probably the biggest gift to his idol Sachin Tendulkar by cracking his first-ever century in T20 cricket. Kohli, on an extremely hot Rajkot afternoon under the scorching sun, took yet another giant stride towards greatness by achieving a feat that had so far eluded him in his chequered career. Kohli smashed his first-ever century in T20 cricket during the IPL 2016 match between Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) and Gujarat Lions (GL), and looking at the tremendous form he has been in, it is a surprise that he achieved it after so many attempts. LIVE CRICKET SCORECARD: Gujarat Lions vs Royal Challengers Bangalore, IPL 2016, Match 19 at Rajkot

There are no doubts that as one of the most improved batsmen in international cricket in recent years, Virat Kohli has turned into a run machine he has been scoring heaps of runs in Test cricket home and abroad, and has been India s batting mainstay in ODI cricket as well. ALSO READ: Virat Kohli’s century guides Royal Challengers Bangalore to 180 for 2 vs Gujarat Lions in IPL 2016

The ICC T20 World Cup 2016 ensured that all international cricket teams focus all their energies on the shortest format of cricket, and Kohli was up for this challenge as well. He scored runs in the Asia Cup 2016, in the T20 World Cup 2016, and began the ninth edition of Indian Premier League (IPL) with as many as three half-centuries.

The fact that Kohli makes runs almost every time he walks out to bat is not surprising. The cruel T20 format which gives no room for error to the players and limited opportunities for batsmen to make big scores saw Kohli reaching the scores of 90s several times in the recent past but never touching the magical three-figure mark.

But there is no stopping Kohli. The Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) captain and their batting wizard AB de Villiers have been punishing all kinds of bowling attacks so far in IPL 9, but when the latter was dismissed comparatively early on Sunday, the responsibility of getting a challenging total fell entirely on Kohli s shoulders.

Kohli teamed up with KL Rahul to put up yet another century partnership the two batsmen put up an unbeaten stand of 121 runs to take RCB to 180 for 2 in their allotted 20 overs. And those who are still wondering over how good Kohli has been this IPL, must be reminded about his feats in the other games as well.

The game against Gujarat Lions (GL) is the fifth game in IPL 9 for Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB). In the first four games, Kohli has smashed three half-centuries. He scored 75 against Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH), 79 against Delhi Daredevils and 80 against Rising Pune Supergiants (RPS). In between was game against Mumbai Indians (MI), in which Kohli scored 33 a score which is considered as good as a half-century in IPL.

This is not all. Kohli added 157 with AB de Villiers against Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH). Against Delhi Daredevils (DD), he added 107 with de Villiers. The two teamed up once again to punish Rising Pune Supergiants (RPS), when they added 155. And in the only game they have flopped by their standards, Kohli and de Villiers added 59 runs, against Mumbai Indians (MI).

On Sunday, Kohli was at his brutal best. The T20 format allows batsmen to be ruthless, innovative and they carry the license to go berserk. But that is not what Kohli does he kills the bowlers with perfectly executed drives, cuts and pulls, and whenever he goes for the big hits in the air, he ensures he clear the ropes.

Kohli s unbeaten 100 off 63 balls was studded with 11 boundaries and only one boundary, which tells us all that how good a batsman can be without those big hits and wild swinging of the bat.

(Devarchit Varma is senior writer with CricketCountry. He can be followed on Twitter @Devarchit)