ODI cricket has come a long way since its inception in 1971. The format was introduced to bring in excitement and attract the crowd for a spectacle that would just last just a day's play.
Hitting sixes was not in the fundamental teachings of cricket in the olden days. However, as time progressed and cricket evolved, a few players changed the course of the sport with their stroke-play.
In this segment, let us take a look at the five leading six-hitters in the history of ODI cricket.
#6 Rohit Sharma - 202 sixes
In the world of rock music, he is like a classical rendition. Where others prefer power to muscle the cricket ball, he uses elegance to the utmost effect. Rohit Sharma is setting new standards of stroke play in limited overs cricket.
Rohit usually takes time at the start of his innings and once settled, he utilizes his six hitting ability to score big runs. He already has three double centuries to his name and also holds the record for the most 150-plus scores in ODI cricket.
He is not far from replacing AB de Villiers in the fifth spot in this list. In just 187 ODI innings, Rohit has hit 202 sixes. The elegant opener needs just three sixes to go past the South African legend's tally.
Rohit has a six-hitting ratio of 1.08 per game. If the 'Hitman' continues to hit sixes at the same rate, he could even end his tally ahead of everyone else in this list.
#5 AB de Villiers - 204 sixes
Fondly called as Mr 360, AB de Villiers revolutionized the art of batting like no one else did. His ability to change gears as per will and whack bowlers to any part of the ground has crowned him as a modern-day great of the game.
In 218 innings of 228 games, Ab de Villiers hit 204 sixes. He is the only batsman in ODI history to average above 50 and score at a strike-rate of over 100 from a minimum of 200 matches. The South African great retired from the international cricket earlier this year. However, he still continues to play in T20 leagues across the globe.
#4 MS Dhoni - 218 sixes
MS Dhoni is regarded as the greatest finisher in the history of ODI cricket. From the start, he has not been someone who would impress with his batting class or elegance. Yet, he has always managed to score crucial runs for the team.
Dhoni's strokes are not traditional but extremely effective. He even brought a 'helicopter shot' to the game that could send yorkers to for sixes. The former Indian captain has smashed 218 sixes from 281 ODI innings. He averages above 50 and has amassed over 10,000 runs in the 50-over format.
#3 Sanath Jayasuriya - 270 sixes
It all started with Sanath Jayasuriya. He was the first batsman to crack the code to score quick runs in first 15 overs of the game. The flashy left-handed batsman from Sri Lanka possessed skills to dominate any bowling attack on his day. He, along with Romesh Kaluwitharana, gave opening the batting a whole new dimension.
Jayasuriya represented Sri Lanka in 445 ODIs and hammered 270 sixes. The iconic all-rounder is also the only cricketer to score 10,000 runs and pick 300 wickets in ODI cricket history.
#2 Chris Gayle - 275 sixes
As his nickname of 'Universe Boss' indicates, Chris Gayle can 'boss' any given bowler on his day. When he gets going, he can clear any cricket ground in the world. Gayle stands tall at over six feet and prefers hitting sixes over fours.
His legs shy away from much movement but he wields his bat to do the scoring. Cricket fans fondly remember the instance where he deposited one of Brett Lee's deliveries outside the Oval in England.
Gayle now mostly prefers T20s but he also possesses significant records in Tests and ODIs as well. In 279 ODI innings, he has hit 275 sixes. The opener has been demolishing bowling attacks across all formats. He is also one of only four batsmen to have scored two triple hundreds in Tests.
#1 Shahid Afridi - 351 sixes
Every time we talk about sixes in cricket, it is hard to keep Shahid Afridi out of the context. Fondly known as 'Boom Boom', the Pakistani all-rounder burst on to the international scene by scoring a 37-ball hundred. He held the record for the fastest hundred for over 17 years until it was broken by Corey Anderson.
Afridi, in his peak, was a fierce hitter of the cricket ball. But he was also fairly inconsistent in his stroke-play. The right-hander played 398 ODIs for Pakistan and hit 351 sixes in his career. In a career spanning over 20 years, he scored at an astonishing strike-rate of 117.