Every Kohli century was beginning to acquire an air of momentousness by this point, as they followed a barren run of form and sped up the countdown towards Sachin Tendulkar’s record 49 ODI hundreds. After rain interrupted India’s innings, Kohli began the reserve day on 8. The first part of his innings focused on accumulation, as he let KL Rahul be the aggressor. But towards the end, the Colombo crowd witnessed Kohli’s pace-hitting skills. From 88 off 77 balls at the end of the 46th over he ramped up to 122 off 94, clocking Faheem Ashraf for four, four and six to finish the innings. The lasting image was a back-foot loft over long-on for six off Naseem Shah that closely resembled his straight hit off Haris Rauf in the T20 World Cup the previous year.
Kohli walked in during the 30th over of the chase, with India 178 for 1 in pursuit of 351 to level the series at 2-2. After Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan had put on a 178-run partnership, Kohli continued his rich vein of form in the series, smashing four fours and a six in the first 18 balls he faced. In the 41st over, he hit a hat-trick of fours off Mitchell Johnson, who struck twice in his next over. From 62 off 48, the equation became 35 off 18, but five fours from Kohli in the next two overs helped India win with three balls to spare. Kohli’s hundred came in the 49th over and off 61 balls, the third-fastest by an Indian in ODIs, just two weeks after he had smashed the fastest.