Best ODI XI of the 21st century

Sarthak Karkhanis

2011 ICC World Cup - Captain's Press Conference

From 1877 to 1971, Test cricket was the lone format of the game. On 5th January 1971, One Day International cricket came into existence. The ODIs have been a great source of entertainment even after the inception of the T20s,

In this Fantasy XI, we look at players from various countries that have stamped their authority over the opposition by producing dominating performances. The selected players have done well not only at the ICC events but also in the bilateral and tri-series tournaments.

We have considered the stats only of matches played in the 21st century while selecting the players. (Since 1st January 2001)


#1 Sachin Tendulkar

India v South Africa: Group B - 2011 ICC World Cup

Any all-time XI, without the Master Blaster being a part of it, is incomplete. 18426 runs in 463 ODIs at an average of 44.63 with 49 centuries and 96 half-centuries, the numbers speak for themselves. To add to his many records, Sachin was the first to reach the 200 run mark in ODIs against South Africa in 2010.

Throughout his staggering career, Tendulkar gave his fans a lot of memories to cherish, like the 98 vs. Pakistan in the 2003 World Cup, a century in the CB series final in 2007 are a few of his knocks in the 21st century that his fans will cherish for a long time.

Sachin also enjoyed an exquisite World Cup career. He represented India in 6 World Cups, a joint-record with Javed Miandad of Pakistan. The Indian batsman scored a record 2278 runs in the tournament with six centuries at an average of 56.95.

In the 21st century, the 2011 World Cup winner has scored 8527 runs at an average of 48.17 and a strike rate of 86.41 with 22 centuries and 46 fifties. He has scored the 3rd most runs as an opener in ODIs in the 21st century.

The former India batsman has a record 62 Man of the Match awards in ODI cricket, including 15 Man of the Series awards.

#2 Tillakaratne Dilshan

Sri Lanka v Scotland - 2015 ICC Cricket World Cup

Dilshan's selection may come as a surprise for many despite the Sri Lankan batsman scoring over 10,000 runs in ODIs, including 22 centuries for the island nation. Regarded as one of the most innovative batsmen of all time, Dilshan invented the scoop, later on, known as the Dil-scoop.

Throughout his career for Sri Lanka, he was mainly in the shadow of the two greats of the game, Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene. He was a part of Sri Lanka's team, which finished as Runner-up in the ICC World Cups in 2007 and 2011.

In the present century, the 2-time world cup runner-up has scored 7367 runs at an average of 46.04 and a strike rate of 89.08 with 21 centuries and 34 fifties as an opener.

He was the leading run-scorer in the 2011 ICC World Cup amassing 500 runs in 9 matches. The Asian opener had an average of 62.5 and a strike rate of 90.74. He also scored two centuries and two half-centuries, including an unbeaten hundred in the quarter-final vs. England.

Middle Order

#3  Virat Kohli

Virat Kohli has scored most centuries in this century

In the peak of his international cricket career, Kohli has already earned comparisons with the greats of the game. In just 239 ODI innings, Kohli has scored 11867 runs with the highest score of 183 against Pakistan in Asia Cup 2012 which was also Sachin Tendulkar's last ODI. He has an extra-ordinary average of 59.33 with 43 centuries and 58 half-centuries.

After impressing in the U-19 World Cup 2008 and in Nation's Tournament in Australia, Kohli got a chance in the ODIs against Sri-Lanka in 2008. In a short span of time, he became a regular in the ODI setup. He scored remained unbeaten on 100 on his World Cup debut vs Bangladesh and made valuable contributions throughout the 2011 World Cup.

The Indian captain has scored the most runs at the number 3 position in the 21st century with 9751 runs. 36 of his 43 centuries have come at number 3.

Kohli has scored 43 Centuries in ODIs out of which 22 have come in successful chases.

#4 AB De Villers

South Africa v West Indies - 2015 ICC Cricket World Cup

Mr. 360 takes the No. 4 spot in the XI. AB De Villiers is often regarded as the most versatile and one of the best batsmen of all time. He started his career as a wicket-keeper/batsman and was mainly used as the substitute keeper to Mark Boucher, but later on started playing solely as a batsman before being the first choice keeper of the Proteas for a brief time after Boucher's retirement.

He holds the record for the fastest 50, fastest 100 and fastest 150 in ODIs. In the 2015 World Cup, he amassed 482 runs and finished as the 3rd highest run-scorer in the tournament. In 223 matches for the Proteas, De Villiers scored 9577 runs with a strike rate of more than 100 and at an average of 53.

AB De Villiers is the 3rd highest run-getter at the Number 4 position in this century, with 5736 runs to his name at an average of 53.11. His strike of 98.64 is the best at the position among batsman with 1000 minimum runs at no. 4

In May 2018, he announced his retirement from international cricket and thereby brought an end to a staggering career.

#5 MS Dhoni (Captain and Wicket Keeper)

England v India - 3rd Royal London ODI

The Ranchi born stalwart is regarded as one of the best wicket-keepers of all time with 444 dismissals to his credit. He made his debut in 2004 against Pakistan. MS Dhoni has been one of the legends of the Indian Cricket. He cemented his place in the Indian side and became the captain in 2007 and guided the team to the CB series title in Australia in 2007-08 and later on in 2011, led India to victory in a World Cup after 28 years. In 2013 under Dhoni’s leadership, India won the Champions Trophy.

Because of his impressive performances as a Captain in ODIs, Dhoni will be handling the captaincy duties for the side and also keeps wickets. The 2011 World Cup-winning captain has 123 stumpings to his name which are the most by any wicketkeeper in the 21st century as well as in ODI history.

In the 21st century, Dhoni is the highest run-getter in the middle order( batting positions 4 to 7) with 9631 runs.

He has scored 10773 runs in his 350 matches long ODI career at an average of 50.57 with 10 centuries and 73 half-centuries to his name.

All Rounders

#6 Yuvraj Singh

India v Pakistan - ICC Champions Trophy

Yuvraj Singh has been one of the greatest match-winner for India in ODI cricket in the 21st century with both bat and ball. Having made his debut against Australia in the Champions Trophy 2000, he immediately became a star due to his fearless batting and exceptional fielding. The left-hander continued with his impressive performances, most notably in the 2002 NatWest Series final helping India defeat England.

In the coming years, Yuvraj along with Dhoni became the pillars of the Indian middle order. In 278 innings for India, Yuvraj Singh scored 8701 runs at an average of 36.

In the 21st century, Yuvraj is also the 3rd highest run-getter in the middle order( batting positions 4 to 7) with 8028 runs.

#7 Jacques Kallis

Jacques Kallis is regarded as arguably the greatest all-rounder of all time

Jacques Kallis is the batting all-rounder in the team. The South African all-rounder provides a great balance to a side like no other player. In the 328 ODIs in which Kallis represented South Africa, he scored 11579 runs with the help 17 centuries and also took 273 wickets.

In the 21st century, Jacques Kallis scored 7729 runs at a batting average of 45.73 and also has 171 wickets to his name. He is one of the five players who have completed the double of 5000 runs and 150 wickets in ODIs in the ongoing century.

With a sound technique, Kallis is comfortable playing the spinners as well as the pacers. Along with the batsman and bowler that Kallis is, he is an excellent fielder with 131 catches to his name in 50 over cricket. Jacques Kallis is regarded as arguably the greatest all-rounder of all time

In 2005, the veteran all-rounder was adjudged as the ICC Player of the Year.

#8 Shahid Afridi

India v Pakistan - 2015 ICC Cricket World Cup

The former Pakistani all-rounder, Shahid Afridi holds the No. 8 spot in the squad. In his first-ever ODI innings, the then 16-year old Afridi scored the then fastest ODI century vs Sri Lanka.

Afridi represented Pakistan in 398 ODIs and scored 8064 runs including 6 centuries and 39 half-centuries. Throughout his career, Afridi was a pinch hitter with the bat and earned the nickname 'Boom Boom'. Out of 7 fastest ODI hundreds, 3 of them have come from the Pakistani all-rounder. His strike rate of 117 is the third highest in the game's history.

Afridi is the all-rounder to score a half-century and take a 5 wicket haul twice in ODIs.

In the 21st century, Afridi scored 5391 runs in 253 innings and his strike rate of 129 was significantly higher than his career strike rate of 117. The Asian all-rounder's strike of 129 in the present century is the best among batsmen with minimum 1100 runs.

The former Pakistan captain picked 395 wickets at an economy rate of 4.62. 317 of his wickets came in the 21st century. His best figures of 7/12 against West Indies in 2013 are the 2nd best bowling figures in an innings in ODIs.

He was the captain in the 2011 World Cup in which Pakistan reached the semifinals, eventually losing to India.


#9 Lasith Malinga


With a slingy action, Malinga made his ODI debut against the United Arab Emirates in 2004 and since then he became a regular feature in the Sri Lankan ODI side. During the peak of his career, Malinga was lethal with his yorkers and slower deliveries.

Malinga has 338 wickets to his name in 226 matches including 8 5 wicket hauls. He is the 2nd highest leading wicket-taker in the 21st century only 8 wickets behind Australia's Brett Lee.

"Slinga Malinga", as he is nicknamed, was a part of the Sri Lankan side which finished as Runners up in 2007 and 2011 editions of the ICC World Cup. Malinga took a record 4 wickets in 4 balls against South Africa in the 2007 World Cup. He also completed a hat-trick against Kenya, in the 2011 World Cup and is the only bowler till date to complete 2 World Cup hat-tricks. With another hattrick against Australia in 2011 at the R Premadasa Stadium in Colombo, he is the only bowler with 3 hattricks in ODI history.

#10 Muttiah Muralitharan

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Muralitharan, the leading wicket-taker ODI Cricket, had single-handedly won a lot of matches for Sri Lanka over the course of his ODI career.

In the 350 matches in which Murali represented Sri Lanka, he had 534 wickets to his credit. In February 2009, he surpassed Wasim Akram as the leading wicket-taker in ODIs.

In the 21st century, Murali is the leading wicket-taker among spinners with 323 wickets at an economy rate 3.83 and a bowling average of 21.01. His economy rate is the best among spinners in this century and the 3rd best overall among bowlers with at least 50 wickets only behind Pollock and McGrath.

Murali was often regarded by many as the greatest spin bowler of all time. Though he was accused of illegal bowling in his career, the allegations never affected his performances. He was part of the Sri Lankan side which finished runners-up in the 2007 and 2011 editions of the ICC Cricket World Cup. The spin wizard played his last ODI for Sri Lanka in the 2011 World Cup Final against India but unfortunately ended on the losing side. 

#11 Brett Lee

Lee is the leading wicket-taker in the 21st century

The last spot is taken by Australia's fast bowler Brett Lee. Regarded as one of the fastest bowlers of all time, Brett Lee was a threat to every opposition in the world. Throughout his career in Australian colours, Lee clocked above 150 KPH. In 221 ODI matches, Lee picked 380 wickets.

Out of 380 ODI wickets, 346 scalps came in the current century and Lee is the leading wicket-taker in the 21st century. With 131 maiden overs in this century, he is 4th on the list of most maidens.

He made his ODI debut against Pakistan in 2000 and immediately cemented his place in the Australian side. Along with Glenn McGrath, he formed a lethal bowling partnership rattling the best batting line-ups in the world with his terrifying pace. He was a part of Australia's title-winning World Cup squads in 2003 and 2007 and the 2011 World Cup squad, in which they reached the quarter-finals, eventually losing to home side India. Lee played his last ODI against England in July 2012