Over the years, India's dominance in the shortest format of the game has grown by leaps and bounds. Ever since they won the inaugural edition of the ICC World T20I in 2007, this growth has been spearheaded by an excellent strength in wielding the willow, complimented equally by the bowlers too. As of most recent occasions, India has won T20I series contests in almost all away conditions, including Windies, South Africa, England and Sri Lanka. They also tied the Australian series last week, when rain hampered their chances of another triumph by getting a game cancelled.
Still, it did take a while for an Indian batsman to get to the magical mark of 100 runs in the 20-over game. It was Suresh Raina who scored 101 runs in 60 balls (9 fours, 5 sixes, 168.33 strike rate) against South Africa in a group game at the ICC World T20I - 2010, a game that India won by 14 runs. Raina's ton remained the only hundred scored by an Indian, and the highest individual T20I score by an Indian, until 2015 when Rohit Sharma bettered it.
Overall, the format has seen 36 hundreds so far, with Rohit (4), Colin Munro (New Zealand - 3), KL Rahul (India), Glenn Maxwell, Aaron Finch(Australia), Chris Gayle, Evin Lewis (Windies), Brendon McCullum, Martin Guptill (New Zealand) - each player with 2 hundreds - leading the individual charts. Remaining are many players like Raina, Alex Hales, David Miller and so on who have scored a ton each. Among countries, India and New Zealand have most hundreds (7 each), followed by Australia (5), South Africa, Windies (4 each), and Sri Lanka (2). Other teams like Pakistan, Afghanistan, England, Scotland, UAE, Hong Kong and Bangladesh have one each.
All this being said, our focus today will be on the top T20I innings played by an Indian batsman, every year since 2013. Let's take a look into who all have made it into this feature, which in turn puts them in the window of some of the greatest batsmen of the format. Spoiler alert: features two non-hundred innings as Raina's successor showed up as late as 2015, as mentioned earlier.
Yuvraj Singh (2013)
It was a typical run-fest at Rajkot in the only T20I of the 2013 Ind-Aus series. Batting first, Australia scored big - 201/7, thanks largely to current skipper Aaron Finch (89 off 52), Nic Maddinson (34 off 16) and Glenn Maxwell (27 off 13). The trio shared 20 fours and 6 sixes among themselves.
In reply, Yuvraj Singh (77 not out off 35, 8 fours, 5 sixes, 220 strike rate), Virat Kohli (29 off 22) and MS Dhoni (24 not out off 21) helped the hosts script a memorable win, with 2 balls to spare and six wickets remaining.
India kept losing wickets early on, and the score read 80/3 when Yuvraj walked in. 20 runs later, Kohli fell and Dhoni came in to partner Yuvi. The duo needed another 102 runs from 56 balls for the win. What followed was carnage, as the southpaw made his comeback from cancer in the most unforgettable way, founding boundaries at will, with lusty blows - as if he was never away from the game, though he was playing after a gap of close to two years.
The 77 runs made by Yuvi got him the Man of the match and also became the highest Indian individual T20I score of 2013.
Virat Kohli (2014)
Yet another unforgettable night for Indian fans, albeit in a sorrowful way. If Yuvi and Dhoni were heroes of the 2013 win against Australia, they turned villains in the Finals of the 2014 World T20I, with their low scoring.
Batting first, India could muster just 130/4, as Yuvraj (11 off 20) and Dhoni (4 off 7) played close to five overs among themselves and added just 15 runs. They cancelled out Rohit's 29-from-26, and more importantly, what would have otherwise been a match-winning Virat Kohli knock of 77(58 balls, 5 fours, 4 sixes, 132.75 strike rate).
Kohli took on the Lankan bowlers and totally looked as if he was giving out batting lessons to the rest of the lot that failed spectacularly. He was run out in the final ball, attempting a needless second run, in a vain hope to add as many runs as possible.
Kumar Sangakkara (52 off 35) and Thisara Perera (23 off 14) helped Sri Lanka win the game in just 17.5 overs, with six wickets remaining, also deservedly giving them their maiden World T20I win after losing out to the Windies in the finals of 2012. Thus, Kohli's top-scoring effort sadly went to waste. He became the tournament's best player for the constant flow of good runs made throughout the tournament.
Rohit Sharma (2015)
A tale of yet another run-fest, a tale of yet another disappointing loss after going on a high. Batting first, India made 199/5, thanks to Rohit Sharma's record-breaking 106(66 balls, 12 fours, 5 sixes, 160.61 strike rate), accompanied by Kohli's 43 off 27 and Dhoni's 20 off 12.
After the hosts lost their first wicket at 22 runs, Rohit and Kohli made a 138-run stand for the second wicket that really put India in the box seat for the win. Though Rohit had already established his mark in ODIs with two double hundreds already, this was his first-ever sound knock in the shortest format. But with four overs remaining, both players got dismissed in the same over, and India failed to accelerate in the remaining time.
JP Duminy's 68 not out off 34, AB de Villiers' 51 off 32, Amla's 36 off 24 and Behardien's 32 not out off 23 resulted in the visitors speeding off to a successful chase. South Africa won the next match as well, winning the series 2-0.
Meanwhile, Rohit's ton was India's second till date, and it overtook Raina's previous effort of 101 against the same opposition, way back in 2010. It remained the Indian record until next year, when KL Rahul bettered it against Windies. More on that in the next slide.
KL Rahul (2016)
A game where India's tryst with individual high scores and harrowing losses continued, as it had since 2014. It was also the game which recorded the highest match aggregate score, a record still unbeaten.
Batting first, Windies made 245/6 as Evin Lewis (100 off 49) became the only Caribbean player after Chris Gayle to reach three figures. He was complemented well by Johnson Charles (79 off 33) and Andre Russell (22 off 12), which in turn made the target really steep for India to chase.
In reply, India lost a couple of wickets within 48 runs, and that was when KL Rahul joined the crease with Rohit Sharma (62 off 28) to try and fight back. The duo gathered 89 runs for the third wicket, after which Rohit was replaced by Dhoni (43 off 25). The duo managed to stage a brilliant comeback, bringing it all down to 2 runs to win in 1 ball.
Meanwhile, Rahul brought India's third individual hundred, blitzing his way to a 51-ball-110 not out, at a strike rate of 215.6 runs. 12 fours and 5 sixes were included in his composed knock, which made sure the visitors did not lose their way...
...until the last ball, that is. Finisher Dhoni failed in what has been a very rare occasion of him not being able to score the winning runs, getting dismissed whilst needing just a couple runs to win from the last ball. The Windies thus prevailed by one run, which also helped them win the series after the second and final game was abandoned a day later.
Rahul's 110 runs made him the new leader of the Indian run-charts in T20Is. The record stayed until Rohit took over in 2017. Meanwhile, the 489 runs scored in the game became the highest aggregate in a T20I, a record yet to be beaten.
Rohit Sharma (2017)
To summarize in a single line, a day of records. India made their highest ever T20I innings score, and Rohit Sharma made his ton the highest ever individual T20I innings score by an Indian till date.
Batting first, KL Rahul's 89 off 49 and Rohit Sharma's 118 off 43 helped India score a mammoth 260/5. The duo gathered 165 runs in 12.4 overs, setting the stage for India to reach their final total.
Rohit's knock, made at a strike rate of 274.41 featured 5 fours and 8 huge maximums. On the way, he also made the world record of fastest T20I hundred, equalling the effort of David Miller from two years earlier - reaching the mark in 35 balls. He also became the best player of the game, eventually.
Later, Sri Lanka folded for 172 all out in 17.2 overs, with no one apart from Kusal Perera (77 off 37) and Upul Tharanga (47 off 29) creating any impact. Indian spinners Chahal and Kuldeep earned seven wickets aking them, resulting in hastening India's win. Later, the hosts won both the remaining games of the series and won the series 3-0.
Rohit's 118 runs still remains India's highest individual T20I knock, and the fastest hundred in any T20I game.
Rohit Sharma (2018)
This is the third Rohit Sharma features in the list, highlighting his hallmark as one of India's best limited over players till date. Batting first, India made 195/2 as Rohit scored 111 not out off 61 balls, helped well by Dhawan (43 off 41) and KL Rahul (26 not out off 14).
Rohit made 123 runs with Dhawan for the first wicket, and after Dhawan and Pant departed, made another 62 runs for an unbeaten 3rd wicket. The Mumbai stalwart scored at a strike rate of 181.96, including 8 fours and 7 sixes.
Windies could muster only 124/9 in return, as a supreme bowling effort from almost all Indian bowlers kept the visitors in a stranglehold. India went on to win the remaining matches as well, sealing the series with a 3-0 whitewash.
Rohit's 111 runs earned him the Man of the Match, and became the second highest Indian individual knock in the format, after the 118 he himself scored a year ago. With that, three out of the four top innings by an Indian in the format became his numbers for the taking. This was also his fourth hundred in T20Is, making him the all-time leader in centuries, eclipsing the numbers of Kiwi batsman Colin Munro.