The quadrennial 50-over World Cup has given us some of the most memorable matches over years and none more so than the last final that took place in England a little over a year ago. Batsmen and bowlers alike raise their game and want to be at their best during the tournament with hopes of creating history for their country by winning the coveted World Cup. While not many get to realise that dream, they still etch their names into the World Cup history books courtesy of stellar performances that are always remembered. Here, we have a look at some of the highest-scoring individual knocks in World Cup history.
The highest-ever score by a batsman in World Cup history and Martin Guptill’s highest-scoring individual effort came against West Indies in the fourth quarter-final of the 2015 World Cup. The right-hander batted the entire 50 overs after opening the innings for the Kiwis and played a starring role with an unbeaten 163-ball 237 that featured 24 fours and 11 sixes. He scored his runs at a strike rate of 145.39 and helped New Zealand post 393 on the scoreboard. The Black Caps won the match after West Indies were bowled out for 250 during their reply but it was Guptill’s knock that truly set up the win and helped them qualify for the semi-final.
Before being hit to all corners of the park by Guptill in the quarter-final, West Indies inflicted a fair bit of damage with the bat themselves. Self-proclaimed Universe Boss Chris Gayle was the chief architect behind West Indies’ destruction of Zimbabwe’s bowlers in a Pool B match at the 2015 World Cup. The explosive left-hander was at his belligerent best against Zimbabwe, smashing 10 fours and 16 sixes en-route to a 147-ball 215. He scored his runs at a strike rate of 146.25 as the opposition struggled to deal with his onslaught prior to his dismissal with the last ball of West Indies’ innings. His knock helped the men from the Caribbean post 372 on the scoreboard and register a 73-run win by D/L method.
A former South African opener and a World Cup-winning coach with India, Gary Kirsten held the distinction of being the highest-ever individual scorer for a team at a World Cup for almost 20 years. Opening the innings for the Proteas against United Arab Emirates in the second match of the 1996 World Cup, Kirsten played the full 50 overs and helped South Africa score 321. He remained unbeaten on 188 from 159 balls and scored at a strike rate of 118.23. The elegant left-hander smashed 13 fours and cleared the ropes on four occasions during his Player of the Match knock that set up a 169-run win for the Proteas.
Sourav Ganguly’s memorable 158-ball 183 against Sri Lanka at Taunton in the 1999 World Cup was another controlled and graceful big knock by a left-hander. Ganguly was dismissed with the penultimate ball of the Indian innings but not before he had hit 17 fours and seven sixes. He scored his runs at a strike rate of 115.82 and along with Rahul Dravid, who scored 145 in the match, put on a partnership 318 together as India went on to score 373 at the end of their 50 overs. In response, Sri Lanka were bundled out for 216 as India recorded a big 157-run win against their Asian neighbours.
Sir Vivian Richards
A player who was ahead of his time, Sir Vivian Richards’ 181 from 125 balls against Sri Lanka in the 1987 World Cup is still considered by many as one of the greatest ODI knocks of all time. He scored his runs at a strike rate of 144.80 long before having better than a run-a-ball strike became a common sight. The legendary West Indian hit 16 fours and seven sixes during the course of his 181 and helped the team post 360 after 50 overs. Richards was deservedly adjudged the Player of the Match as West Indies went on to win by 191 runs after Sri Lanka managed to score 169 in their innings – 12 runs short of the legendary right-hander's score in the match.
Feature image courtesy: AFP / Saeed Khan