The Ten Greatest ODI Innings in a Losing Cause

Cricket is a team sport, and sometimes individual brilliance is insufficient to win a game. There have been numerous instances where a batsman has played a magnificent knock but ended up on the losing side. While those knocks did not help their team reach the finish line, their efforts will live on in the hearts of the fans.

Here are the top ten innings that had the biggest ODI knocks but came in a losing cause.

10. Rohit Sharma (150) vs South Africa | Kanpur, 2015

The Proteas hammered the feeble Indian bowling to all parts of the ground, and with the help of AB de Villiers’ stunning century, South Africa scored 303 on the board.

Coming in to bat, Indian openers Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan got off to a terrific start before Dhawan fell. Rohit Sharma took charge of the chase, and the shots he played were as brilliant as it gets.

Rohit smashed a magnificent 150 off 133 balls with 6 sixes, displaying a craftsman’s delicate touch and impeccable timing. However, once Sharma was dismissed on 269/4 with 23 balls remaining to get 35 runs, India eventually lost by 5 runs, and Rohit’s magnificent effort went in vain.

Also Read | Five Reasons that make Rohit Sharma a Special Batsman

9.  Saeed Anwar (101) vs India | Centurion, 2003 Cricket World Cup

Saeed Anwar’s 101 against India at the 2003 Cricket World Cup in Johannesburg, South Africa, will live long in memory. Sachin Tendulkar’s 98 in the same while chasing has overshadowed this outstanding performance.

Playing in an India-Pakistan match is always special, and Saeed Anwar’s innings is no exception. His century was more tenacious, with more spacious fours and sixes.

After a promising start, wickets began to fall, and it was the graceful Saeed Anwar who produced his third World Cup century and 20th of his career. Younis Khan came in second with a score of 32. However, Tendulkar’s brilliant innings were too good for one of the world’s top bowling assaults.

8. Herschelle Gibbs (101) vs Australia | Leeds, 1999 Cricket World Cup

With South Africa already qualified for the semi-finals, their final Super Six match was a golden opportunity to knock the Aussies out of the competition. Herschelle Gibbs’ gritty knock of 101 took the Proteas to 271/7, but Gibbs’ became the reason for their loss.

In a match where Gibbs is often remembered as the villain who dropped Steve Waugh’s wicket while celebrating a catch, the manner in which he limited Shane Warne’s impact on a turning pitch to only 2 wickets was a contribution that few players could match. However, history only knows the iconic dropped catch and the fabled comments of Steve Waugh to Gibbs: “Son, you just dropped the World Cup.”

7. Charles Coventry (194*) vs Bangladesh | Bulawayo, 2009

One would assume that after scoring 194 runs for your team, you have successfully won the match. Unfortunately, Charles Coventry was not one of them. His 194*, which equalled the great Saeed Anwar’s record, sadly went in vain as the Zimbabwean bowlers were unable to restrict Tamim Iqbal.

An innings that comprised 16 fours and 7 sixes should have allowed Zimbabwe to reach more than 350 runs, but a lack of support from the other end saw them only manage 312. While this should have been enough, the Zimbabwean bowlers ruined Coventry’s efforts with erroneous bowling. 194* is the highest individual score for a losing cause in the record books to this day.

6. Mahela Jayawardene (103*) vs India | Mumbai, 2011 Cricket World Cup Final

Mahela Jayawardene’s 103 versus India in the 2011 World Cup final was one to remember. Previously, whenever a player scored a century in the final, that side was almost always victorious.

Walking off the pitch after his century, Jayewardene would have felt he had done his part to ensure his team’s victory. His brilliant innings of 88 balls were immaculate. He rotated the strike with ease and spearheaded the Sri Lankan attack after Sangakkara was out, with help from Nuwan Kulasekara and Thisara Perera.

Unfortunately, this inning came at the expense of a loss. Given the amount of pressure a player faces while batting in a World Cup final, this masterpiece of an innings was regrettably in vain.

5. Yuvraj Singh (139) vs Australia | VB Series, 2004

It was unexpected that Yuvraj Singh’s outstanding 139 resulted in defeat in a match that was cut short by 16 overs due to rain. It is exceedingly difficult to stop a player like Yuvraj, especially when he is in form, and he appeared to be in great form in Sydney.

Yuvraj Singh’s strokeplay has never been more precise than on that day in Sydney. In the 49th over, he whacked Ian Harvey for 22 runs, putting India in command and giving Australia a target of 297, only for poor luck to rip it all away. Gilchrist’s 95 from 72 balls established the tone of the Australian chase.

4. Ricky Ponting (164) vs South Africa | Wanderers, 2009

Batting first, Australia set a world record target of 435 for South Africa, only to have it smashed in the same match. Ricky Ponting could not be dismissed on this day. His 164 was one of the finest ODI innings ever.

Ricky Ponting went on to attack after playing second fiddle to Adam Gilchrist, producing one of the most remarkable innings ever, probably only surpassed by Herschelle Gibbs later that day. Herschelle Gibbs had other intentions for them that day, as South Africa successfully chased down a massive total of 435 in under 50 overs. 

3. Nasser Hussain (115) vs India | NatWest Final, 2002

Nasser Hussain, known more for his captaincy than his batting, was having a hard period in the series. In fact, aside from the usual critics and analysts, respected ex-players were clamouring for Hussain to be benched.

Hussain demonstrated his mental toughness in the series’ last encounter. He produced his second century of his career at Lord’s that day, despite a tough spell from the Indian bowling attack and playing the anchor position.

Hussain (115) played for nearly 40 overs after England opener Nick Knight was out early, and at an era when anything above 275 was considered a winning score, he helped England set a challenging target of 326 runs in front of India. But if it hadn’t been for a Yuvi-Kaif special that day, Nasser Hussain would have won the match.

2. Sachin Tendulkar (175) vs Australia | Hyderabad, 2009

Australia and India were tied at 2-2 in the 7-match ODI series. Australia batted first after winning the toss, scoring 350 runs, with Ricky Ponting and Shane Watson leading the way with 112 and 93, respectively.

Sachin Tendulkar was timing and middling the ball quite well; however, wickets were falling at the other end. Apart from Sehwag early on and Raina later on, no Indian middle-order batsman reached double figures.

With Raina in tow, it appeared like this would be one of the most remarkable victories in Indian history. But, with only 19 runs needed from 18 balls and 4 wickets in hand, Tendulkar, on 175 runs, attempted to hit a slower delivery from Clint McKay over a fine leg, only to be caught by Nathan Hauritz and destroy Indian hopes.

1. Sachin Tendulkar (143) vs Australia | Sharjah in 1999

Another Tendulkar performance is on this list. India needed to score 254 to qualify for the final of the tri-series Coca-Cola Cup between India, Australia, and New Zealand, chasing a total of 284 for victory.

Tendulkar showed no signs of slowing down when the play was delayed, and the target was reduced to 276 in 47 overs for victory, with India requiring 237 to qualify. Indeed, it appeared that India would just win the match at one point, but an audacious try to get under a slower bouncer from Damian Fleming shattered any chances of victory.

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