2018 has been a fabulous year for one-day international cricket. We have seen quite some records being broken and many new ones being made.
However, what made the year truly special were the kind of ODI knocks that made their way into the history books. On one side, we saw batsmen who showed their grit, determination and character with fabulous knocks in crisis situations and on the other side, we saw batsmen who rolled over the opposition with their flair, brutality and aggression.
Let us now have a look at 10 of those ODI innings which defined the year 2018.
1. Ross Taylor- 181* (147) vs England at Dunedin
It was the fourth ODI of the series and the Kiwis were 2-1 down while playing at home. This was a do-or-die match for them.
England made full use of the favourable batting conditions and set a target of 336 runs with the help of twin tons from Jonny Bairstow and Joe Root. New Zealand got off to a troubled start in reply as both their openers, Martin Guptill and Colin Munro, departed for a duck with the team at 2/2 within the first couple of overs.
That was when Ross Taylor walked out to bat. What followed was an epic innings in which Taylor braved cramps and tiredness to see his team over the line. It was a sublime knock studded with 17 fours and 6 sixes as none of the English bowlers found a way to trouble him. He belted the bowlers all around the park for the major part of his innings, even when he had developed cramps. Neither the pace of Mark Wood nor the spin of Adil Rashid could trouble him.
However, he was not alone in the fight as he stitched three crucial partnerships of 84, 187 and 30 with Kane Williamson, Tom Latham and Colin de Grandhomme, respectively. Those three batsmen with individual contributions of 45, 71 and 23 were also the reasons behind Taylor’s successful innings and New Zealand’s thrilling chase.
2. Mushfiqur Rahim- 144 (150) vs Sri Lanka at Dubai
The first match of Group B of the 2018 edition of the Asia Cup turned out to be a contest to remember. Winning the toss, Bangladesh skipper Mashrafe Mortaza elected to bat first.
The decision didn't pay rich dividends in the beginning as Lasith Malinga got rid of both Liton Das and Shakib Al Hasan on the last two deliveries of the first over of the innings. He was breathing fire as he looked fitter than ever. Bangladesh were reduced to 2/1 and that was when Mushfiqur walked out to bat. Their troubles didn't end there as he saw Tamim Iqbal retiring hurt after injuring his wrist after being hit by a bouncer. So, Bangladesh were effectively three down, with just two runs on the board.
However, Mushfiqur didn't give up. A partnership of 131 runs with Mohammad Mithun followed, which helped in steadying the ship. Mushfiqur played the second fiddle in that that partnership but after Mithun departed for 63, he started running out of partners as wickets kept tumbling from the other end.
It was Malinga again who was doing the damage but Mushfiqur held his fort. He was fighting it out there despite not being fully fit, he was on pain killers due to a back issue which was troubling him. But he carried on and went full throttle. Bangladesh were being destroyed by Sri Lankan bowlers at one end whereas Mushfiqur was demolishing the Sri Lankan bowlers at the other. He turned out to be unstoppable and finally propelled his team to a score of 261 runs with his fabulous knock of 144 runs off 150 deliveries. That kind of end to their innings gave Bangladesh the momentum in the match and the bowlers did the rest, bowling Sri Lanka out for 124 to complete a 137-run victory.
3. Jos Buttler- 110* (122) vs Australia at Manchester
This was the 5th and also the final match of the ODI series between England and Australia at Manchester. England had already sealed the fate of the series by winning the first four ODIs and were looking for a fifth one to complete the whitewash.
The English bowlers did a good job to restrict Australia to a total of 205 runs on a tricky pitch. However, it seemed like Australia were going to win this match when they had reduced England to 3/23. That was when Jos Buttler walked out to bat but England's troubles didn't end there as they were further reduced to 4/27, then 6/86 and then the end definitely looked near when they were at 8/114. Kane Richardson and Billy Stanlake were the wreckers in chief with 3 wickets each to their names.
However, Buttler led a miraculous recovery with a ninth wicket partnership of 81 runs with Adil Rashid. The latter scored only 20 runs in that stand as Buttler went on scoring flawlessly without giving the Aussie bowlers any chance. However, Marcus Stoinis got Australia back into the match again with the wicket of Rashid while England still needed 11 runs to win. But Buttler didn't budge. Last man Jake Ball also showed some grit out there as he faced 10 deliveries with just one run to his name and didn't give the Aussie bowlers any chance to dismiss him. Buttler finally scored the remaining 10 runs and drove his team home safely. This was one of the best innings in a run chase seen this year.
4. Virat Kohli-160* (159) vs South Africa at Cape Town
In the third match of the 6-match ODI series between India and South Africa, Virat Kohli walked out to bat when Rohit Sharma departed for a duck with India’s score on 0/1.
India had won the previous two matches and South Africa were desperate for a win. However, Kohli ensured that wasn't happening as he played second fiddle in a 140-run stand with Shikhar Dhawan for the second wicket first. Then, when India lost quick wickets after Dhawan’s dismissal, Kohli batted like a man on a mission mixing caution with aggression to maintain a steady flow of runs.
He also ensured that he didn't lose his wicket to a fiery bowling attack consisting of the likes of Kagiso Rabada, Lungi Ngidi and Chris Morris, despite the fact that wickets were continuously tumbling at the other end. His innings was characterised by flawless drives, wristy flicks, tireless running and unbreakable concentration. He ended up with an unbeaten 160 off 159 deliveries in India’s total of 303 runs, which was more than 50 percent of the total runs scored.
India ended up winning the match handsomely as the bowlers did a fabulous job to bowl South Africa out for 179 as well.
5. Faf du Plessis- 120 (112) vs India at Durban
This was again the first match of the same series against India at Durban. The Indian spinners, Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal, were all over the South African batsmen in this ODI. But du Plessis stepped up to the Challenge and set the template for tackling them with this masterclass of an innings. He showed that instead of trying to attack the spinners, the right approach was to milk their bowling through the gaps. He kept at it but the other batsmen failed to learn as they kept losing wickets from the other end.
However, du Plessis led the fight single-handedly with his fabulous and determined knock of 120 and somehow propelled them to a total of 269/8. It did come in a losing cause as Kohli’s 112 helped India to chase down the total but it is one of the best knocks we have seen in the entire year. He worked the gaps for singles and doubles and also pounced on the loose deliveries on offer.
The end result was a batting lesson on how to tackle quality spinners.
6. David Miller- 139 (108) vs Australia at Hobart
In the third ODI of the series against Australia at Hobart, South Africa had lost their first three wickets for 55 runs after Australia won the toss and chose to field first. Things were going well for the home side as they looked to press on the advantage with the series equally poised at 1-1.
South African skipper du Plessis was looking for a partner who could see the team through the 50 overs with him and he found that in David Miller. Both of them batted beautifully and steadied the ship. Both batsmen scored centuries but it was Miller who went on a boundary hitting spree towards the end to propel their score to over 300 runs with an individual contribution of 139 off 108 deliveries. It was an innings that showed that Miller has the ability in him to play on all gears as he started off slowly, built his innings and then launched the assault at the end.
7. Fakhar Zaman- 210 (156) vs Zimbabwe at Bulawayo
Pakistan got their first double-centurion in ODIs as their Champions Trophy 2017 hero Fakhar Zaman took the Zimbabwean bowlers to the cleaners in their fourth ODI of the tour, at Bulawayo.
Zaman smashed 24 fours and 5 sixes en route his 210 which came off just 156 deliveries. He also became the eighth batsman overall to achieve this unique feat in ODIs. His fabulous knock helped Pakistan reach a total of 399/1 and the Pakistani bowlers completed the formalities by bowling Zimbabwe out for 155.
8. Jason Roy- 180 (151) vs Australia at Melbourne
It was a very good track to bat on and Australia had thrown the challenge in front of England by posting a good total of 304 runs on the board. But Jason Roy responded with a highly aggressive yet flawless innings of 180 that made the Aussies look completely helpless.
The fact that it came against a quality pace attack consisting of the likes of Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins and Andrew Tye, made it even more special. All the big hits were clean, defence was strong and the way he found the gaps was mesmerising to watch as well.
It turned out to be Roy’s highest-ever ODI score and was studded with 16 fours and five sixes.
9. Calum MacLeod 157* (146) vs Afghanistan at Bulawayo
This was unarguably the best innings by an associate nations’ batsman this year.
Chasing a target of 256 runs set by Afghanistan, Scotland’s MacLeod played a sublime knock of an unbeaten 157 runs after walking out to bat on a score of 2/21. He was involved in a 208-run stand for the third wicket with Richie Berrington which eventually steered Scotland to victory in this ICC World Cup Qualifier encounter.
It has to be remembered that it came against an opposition which had two of the world’s best limited overs format spinners, Rashid Khan and Mujeeb Ur Rahman. So, the way he negotiated them made his innings even more special.
10. Tony Ura- 151 (142) vs Ireland at Harare
This 29-year old Papua New Guinea batsman once again showed the rising power of associate nations with a fabulous knock of 151 in the ICC World Cup Qualifiers.
Batting first, PNG didn't get off to a good start as they lost wickets at regular intervals. However, Ura held fort and carried on the rampage from one end. His innings, studded with 10 fours and 6 sixes, eventually helped them post a respectable total of 235 runs on the board.
PNG lost the match eventually but this will remain one of the best ODI innings by an associate batsman for a long time ahead.
(Prasenjit Dey is a freelance cricket writer. He can be reached at @CricPrasen. The opinions expressed are the author’s own and The Quint neither endorses nor is responsible for the same.)
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