New Delhi: With Virat Kohli regularly slamming centuries in ODIs, former captain Sunil Gavaskar on Thursday said the Indian batting sensation can break retiring legend Sachin Tendulkar`s record number of tons in the 50-over format.
In the 112 ODI innings he has played so far, Kohli has scored 4919 runs with 17 centuries while Tendulkar at the same number of innings had scored 4001 runs with eight tons.
At the rate the youngster is scoring centuries currently, Gavaskar said Kohli can break Tendulkar`s record of 49 ODI hundreds.
"Records are meant to be broken. While we know that some of Tendulkar`s records are well nigh impossible to be able to get like 200 Test matches, nor anybody can reach 51 Test hundreds.
"But the manner in which Virat is batting, the record for (Tendulkar`s) 49 hundreds looks possible. Now Virat needs 32 more hundreds to go and the number of ODIs Indians play he can do it. This cricketing season itself, Virat can get to 20 or 22 hundreds," Gavaskar told `NDTV`.
In a span of just 15 days in the ongoing seven-match ODI series against Australia, Kohli smashed two of the three fastest hundreds by an Indian to help the home side level the series 2-2.
On October 16, he scored the fastest century by an Indian off just 52 balls in the second ODI against Australia before hitting the third fastest ton in 61 balls in the sixth ODI yesterday.
Asked if Kohli can take Tendulkar`s place in the Indian team after the senior batsman retires next month, Gavaskar said, "I think Virat has been simply outstanding. If you compare the statistics with what Sachin had achieved after 115 ODI games, you`ll find that Virat is well ahead. I think Sachin took around 80-odd ODIs to get his first hundred."
He said Kohli was fortunate to have played alongside greats such as Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid and V V S Laxman early in his career.
"India is blessed to have somebody of the talent of Virat Kohli coming through. The fact that he has in his emerging years spent a lot of time with the likes of Sachin, Virender Sehwag, Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman and put that experience to good use on the field speaks very highly of this young man`s cricketing intelligence. That is the key," Gavaskar said.
"He reads the conditions and situation well, he knows the opposition well and that`s the reason why he is scoring so consistently," said the former captain.
Kohli is the fastest Indian to score 4,000 ODI runs and he needs 81 runs in his next ODI innings to break Vivian Richards` record of being fastest to 5,000 ODI runs.
Gavaskar also said that he agreed with Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni`s view that the ODI game has now become a boundary hitting contest due to the new rule changes which do not favour the bowlers.
"I agree with Dhoni that we don`t want to see this seven hours of bang-bang cricket. This has become an extended version of T20 which is bang-bang from very beginning. But it was expected in T20 but not in 50-over cricket, where you expect bowlers to have something. But if you have pitches like these that`s is not going to happen. The best of the bowlers will get smashed," he said.
"It is a pretty valid question. The game has always got to be a balance between the bat and the ball. I know it is being skewed in favour of batsmen for such a long time that I would have thought that by allowing to bowl bouncers in limited overs cricket you gave the bowlers some extra bit.
"By having two new balls you have certainly taken out the spinners from the game to an extent because you have got a ball which is 25 over old on either side, so the spinners will not come into play that often. And the most crucial rule has been that of having only four fielders outside the circle. That is of no help at all to the bowlers. That is the rule we need to have a look at," said Gavaskar.
Interestingly, Gavaskar said the 50-over format will still remain as batsman`s game even after a re-look of the recent changes in rules which disfavour the bowlers.
"If we do that (have a re-look at the recent rule changes) may be the balance might again be redressed a bit and but not all. Because after all at the end of the day whether anybody like it or not it`s a batsman`s game and people come to see a batsman bat and not a bowler to bowl."