Kohli, 34, smashed an unbeaten 166 to lead India to the biggest-ever ODI win by 317 runs against Sri Lanka on Sunday, his 46th ODI ton and 74th in all formats.
The former captain ended last year with an ODI century against Bangladesh and began 2023 with another 113 in the Sri Lanka opener to announce his return as a run machine in style.
Kohli went through an extended lean patch last year, failing to reach three figures in over 1,000 days.
He quit as T20 skipper in late 2021 and in January 2022 was sacked from the ODI captaincy and gave up leading the Test side too.
“King Kohli” last week spoke again about his mental struggles during his dry phase, including how he had been “snappy” around his Bollywood actress wife Anushka Sharma.
“In my case, in denial, frustration was creeping in. I was very cranky, very snappy in my space,” Kohli told the Indian cricket board’s website bcci.tv. “It was not fair on Anushka, my close ones, it’s not fair on the people who support you. So I had to take responsibility and kind of put things in perspective.”
– ‘Different level’ – But he hit his first century after 1020 days in the Asia Cup Twenty20 tournament in September last year and hasn’t looked back since.
Veteran commentator Harsha Bhogle said, “the king is back to doing what he does best, scoring hundreds”.
Kohli’s long-time IPL friend and former teammate at Royal Challengers Bangalore AB de Villiers tweeted: “Virat Kohli! Different level.”
“It’s wonderful to see Virat Kohli back at his best in white-ball cricket, this unbeaten 166 was special even by his lofty standards,” batting great VVS Laxman wrote on Twitter.
Sri Lanka batsman Angelo Mathews called Kohli a “modern great” and Pakistan wicketkeeper-batsman Kamran Akmal said “he is the boss of this era”.
Senior Indian journalist Rajdeep Sardesai, son of former India cricketer Dilip Sardesai, hailed Kohli as the greatest ever ODI player.
“Recall how only a few months ago there were those questioning @imVkohli future, esp (especially) in white ball cricket,” Sardesai wrote on Twitter.
But citing Kohli’s tournament-leading run tally at the T20 World Cup and two ODI centuries against Sri Lanka, Sardesai wrote: “the King is back”.