A finisher in cricket refers to a middle-order batter in limited-overs cricket who is responsible for finishing the inning in pressure situations.
In essence, finishers are expected to get their team over the line if they are batting in the second inning. If the finisher is batting in the first inning of a limited-overs game, he is expected to produce a strong finish and accelerate to help the team post a high score.
A few of the prerequisites for being a good finisher in cricket are being calm, maintaining one’s composure, and dealing with pressure situations with clarity of thought besides also being able to execute your shots to hit on the accelerator for your team.
Not all cricketers boast these qualities, which is why it is imperative for teams to correctly identify those individuals who are capable of delivering the goods when needed the most. With that in mind, here’s a closer look at some of the best finishers in cricket both past and present.
Best finishers in cricket
AB de Villiers
AB de Villiers, also known as Mr. 360 owing to his ability to smash a ball to every corner of the stadium, is perhaps the best finisher in the history of cricket. Over the course of his career, he has chased down innumerable targets for both his national team South Africa and numerous T20 league franchises. One of the few international players to have a 100-plus strike rate and an average of above 50 in ODIs, de Villiers’ ability to consistently help his teams finish with momentum is unlikely to be matched by many going into the future. He also holds the record for scoring the fastest ODI hundred against West Indies after bringing up his ton in 31 balls.
One of the greatest finishers of all-time, India legend MS Dhoni revolutionised the art of closing an inning in limited-overs cricket with aplomb. A firm believer in taking an inning and match as deep as possible, MSD’s ability to win matches off the last over was second to none. Renowned for hitting sixes off the last ball of an inning, Dhoni’s finishing ability wasn’t just appreciated by Indian fans but also by Indian T20 League franchise Chennai, who he led to four Indian T20 League titles and two T20 Champions League trophies. His finishing exploits will probably be most fondly remembered for the 2011 ODI World Cup when he entered the crease with the game hanging firmly in the balance before producing an unbeaten 91 off 79 balls and smashing a six to win India their second 50-over World Cup.
A player who was ahead of his time, Michael Bevan can be considered one of the pioneers of finishing in limited-overs cricket even though he never played in T20Is. A lot of cricket fans believe that it was Bevan who was responsible for coining the term finisher. His ability to assess the situation in pressure circumstances and play according to the needs of his team before accelerating in the closing stages of the inning will remain long in the memory of cricket fans in the 1990s and early 2000s. He played a key role in the 1999 and 2003 ODI World Cup, and his average of 53.58 is the best among these finishes on this list.
Sir Vivian Richards
One of the first superstars in cricket history, Sir Vivian Richards amassed more than 15,000 international runs during his 18-year career. He averaged 47 and had a strike rate of 90.20 during an era when such numbers were unheard of. A belligerent batter who set fear in the hearts of bowlers thanks to his destructive style of batting, Sir Vivian Richards could do it all. Whether it was getting his teams off to quick starts or finishing the innings in style for his team, there simply wasn’t anything he could not do.
Former Pakistan all-rounder, Shahid Afridi was known for his explosive batting and aggression with the willow in his hand. He scored more than 8,000 runs in the 50-over format and had a stunning strike rate of 117. Despite starting his career as a top-order batter, Boom Boom Afridi as he was fondly known during his playing days smoothly transitioned into an exquisite finisher toward the fag end of his career. A great six-hitter, there aren’t many players in the game who have hit more sixes than Afridi in international cricket.
The only active player on this list, England’s Jos Buttler is your archetypal modern-day finisher. He has a strike rate of almost 120 in ODIs and almost 150 in T20Is. Although he’s a versatile player who is known to open the innings in T20Is, Buttler primarily dons the role of finisher in ODIs. Another monster six-hitter, Buttler is capable of accessing all areas of the ground like de Villiers courtesy of his great strokeplay. With many more years of cricket still ahead of him, Buttler could finish as the greatest finisher of all-time in cricket.
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