Top 13 Greatest ODI Innings of All Time: Maxwell Tops the Chart

Cricket often witnesses individual brilliance that can completely alter the game’s dynamics. Such was the case in Glenn Maxwell’s extraordinary 201 not out against Afghanistan and Travis Head’s pivotal 137 in the World Cup final against India, both in 2023. Maxwell’s innings, battling physical challenges, turned a dire situation into a memorable victory for Australia, while Head’s aggressive yet controlled batting steered Australia to their sixth World Cup title. These remarkable innings underscore the profound impact a single player can have in cricket, particularly in high-stakes situations. In this article, we will explore 13 of the greatest ODI innings ever played, where individual players’ performances have not only won matches but also etched their names in cricket history.

1. Glenn Maxwell 201*: Highest individual score in an ODI run-chase

Glenn Maxwell’s innings of 201 not out against Afghanistan in the 2023 World Cup is one of the most inspiring innings of world cricket and can be said as the best ODI innings of all time. In this match, Australia was in a difficult position, having lost seven wickets for just 91 runs. They were chasing a target of 292 set by Afghanistan. Despite suffering from cramps and body pain, Maxwell played an extraordinary innings, breaking several records. His score of 201 not out is the highest individual score in an ODI run-chase, surpassing Fakhar Zaman’s 193 against South Africa in 2021. It’s also the highest individual score for Australia in ODIs, beating Shane Watson’s 185 not out against Bangladesh in 2011. Additionally, Maxwell’s innings is now the highest score for a batter batting at number three or lower, surpassing Charles Coventry’s 194 not out for Zimbabwe against Bangladesh in 2009.

Maxwell, along with Pat Cummins, formed a 202-run partnership, which is now the highest for the seventh wicket or lower in all men’s ODIs. Cummins contributed 12 runs in 68 balls, playing a crucial supporting role. Maxwell’s innings was characterised by powerful hitting, including 10 sixes and 21 boundaries, and he achieved this milestone despite physical discomfort and apparent back issues. This incredible performance helped Australia seal their place in the semi-finals and is considered one of the greatest ODI innings by any Australian player. 

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2. MS Dhoni 183*: Highest score by a wicketkeeper in ODIs

On October 31, 2005, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, a rising star in international cricket, made history with an unbeaten 183 runs against Sri Lanka in Jaipur, setting a record for the highest score by a wicketkeeper in One-Day Internationals (ODIs). Entering a tense situation with India at 7/1 after losing Sachin Tendulkar, Dhoni batted aggressively from the start, hitting a six off Chaminda Vaas. His powerful innings featured 15 fours and 10 sixes, reflecting his incredible hitting skills. Forming crucial partnerships with Sehwag, Dravid, and Yuvraj Singh, Dhoni led India towards victory, even while battling cramps. This match was not just a display of Dhoni’s batting prowess but a turning point in his career, establishing him as a key player in international cricket. Dhoni’s 183* became a symbol of his ability to perform under pressure, laying the groundwork for his future as one of India’s most successful captains, known for his calm and strategic leadership. His journey from a small town to becoming a cricket legend continues to inspire many.

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3. Virat Kohli 133*: 24 runs in a single Malinga over

In 2012, during the CB series, Virat Kohli played one of his most unforgettable innings in ODIs against Sri Lanka. India faced a massive challenge, needing to chase down 320 runs in just 40 overs to stay in the tournament. Kohli stepped in with India at 86-2 and immediately took control. He built a vital 115-run partnership with Gautam Gambhir and, after Gambhir’s exit, joined forces with Suresh Raina to power through the Sri Lankan bowling attack.

The highlight of Kohli’s innings was his incredible assault on Lasith Malinga, one of the world’s top bowlers then. Kohli smashed 24 runs in a single Malinga over, showcasing his exceptional skill and confidence. He remained unbeaten at 133 runs from just 86 balls, propelling India to a stunning victory in 37 overs.

This performance was not just a display of Kohli’s batting talent but also his ability to deliver in high-pressure situations. The innings marked a significant moment in Kohli’s career, solidifying his reputation as a master of the ODI format and a player capable of turning the tide in crucial matches. This knock remains a highlight in Kohli’s career, celebrated for its impact and the challenging conditions under which it was played.

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4. Ricky Ponting 140*: Second 90 runs from just 47 balls in World Cup Final

In the 2003 Cricket World Cup final, Australian captain Ricky Ponting played an unforgettable innings against India. Australia, having been undefeated throughout the tournament, delivered their most complete performance in the final. After being sent in to bat by India, Australia got off to a strong start with Adam Gilchrist and Matthew Hayden setting the stage. Ponting, coming in next, took 74 balls to reach his half-century, hitting just one boundary initially. However, he then accelerated remarkably, unleashing a fierce attack in the final overs. He finished unbeaten on 140, with his second 90 runs coming from just 47 balls. Ponting’s performance, along with Damien Martyn’s 88 not out, helped Australia set a formidable total. This innings by Ponting is often regarded as one of the finest in World Cup history, showcasing his leadership and batting prowess under pressure.

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5. Herschelle Gibbs 175: Greatest run-chase in ODI history (434)

Herschelle Gibbs’ iconic 175 against Australia came in a record-breaking ODI at Johannesburg in 2006. Australia, the world champions at the time, had set a massive total of 434, the first-ever score above 400 in the 50-over format, with Ricky Ponting contributing 164. In response, South Africa, led by Graeme Smith and Herschelle Gibbs, chased down this daunting target. Gibbs’ innings was a key element in this historic chase, as he scored 175 runs from just 111 balls, which included 21 fours and seven sixes. This match remains one of the most extraordinary in ODI history, where South Africa achieved the greatest run-chase ever, securing victory with one wicket and a ball to spare, and also won the five-match series 3-2​.

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6. Rohit Sharma 264: Highest individual score in ODIs

Rohit Sharma’s spectacular 264-run innings against Sri Lanka on November 11, 2014, at Eden Gardens set a new benchmark for ODI scores. Coming back after a three-month absence due to a finger injury, Sharma faced initial skepticism about his form. The match began with Ajinkya Rahane showcasing early aggression, but Sharma started cautiously, playing almost like a Test match. His first boundary came in the 11th over, and even then, he didn’t accelerate immediately. It was after the dismissal of Ambati Rayudu and the arrival of Virat Kohli that Sharma started taking more chances. He gradually increased the pace of his innings, reaching his 50 in the 24th over. From then on, Sharma’s innings shifted gears. He reached his century in the 32nd over, a run-a-ball knock. 

The Eden Gardens crowd witnessed a masterclass in batting as Sharma’s run rate rapidly increased. Post his century, Sharma’s innings was a mix of caution and aggression. He brought up his 150 in the 39th over and continued his dominance. His partnership with Robin Uthappa in the later stages was particularly destructive, contributing significantly to India’s massive total. Sharma’s innings, marked by an array of boundaries and sixes, ended off the last ball of India’s innings, and he walked back to a standing ovation and a guard of honour from his teammates. His innings comprised 33 fours and nine sixes, setting a monumental target for Sri Lanka, which India defended successfully, winning by 153 runs​.

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7. Travis Head 137: Most Under Pressure ODI innings in a World Cup Final

In the 2023 Cricket World Cup final, Travis Head delivered a memorable performance against India, playing a pivotal role in Australia clinching their sixth World Cup title. Head’s innings of 137 runs were instrumental in leading Australia to a dominant seven-wicket victory. The final, held at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad, saw Australia chasing a target of 241 set by India. Head’s innings included 15 fours and four sixes, showcasing his ability to anchor the innings and steer his team to victory under pressure. His consistent performance throughout the tournament, including a gritty fifty in the final, demonstrated his significant contribution to Australia’s World Cup triumph. 

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8. Shane Watson 185* runs: Most runs in an innings from boundaries

In 2011, Australian all-rounder Shane Watson delivered a breathtaking innings against Bangladesh in Dhaka, scoring a massive 185 not out from just 96 balls. This knock, featuring a staggering 15 fours and 15 sixes, stands out for Watson’s exceptional ability to score boundaries. He blasted off from the start, hitting three fours in the first over and reaching a rapid half-century in only 26 balls.

Watson’s aggression didn’t stop there. He powered his way to his sixth ODI century and, in a remarkable display of hitting, smashed four sixes in a row in the 22nd over. By the 24th over, he had crossed 150 runs, steering Australia to an easy chase of Bangladesh’s 230-run target.

Watson’s performance shattered two world records: hitting the most sixes in an ODI innings (15) and scoring the most runs in an innings from boundaries alone. Despite half-centuries from Bangladesh’s Mushfiqur Rahim and Shahriar Nafees, Watson’s explosive batting dominated the game, leading Australia to victory in just 26 overs. His innings is celebrated as one of the most dominant and aggressive displays in ODI cricket history.

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9. Sachin Tendulkar 175 Runs

In 2009, cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar played an unforgettable innings of 175 against Australia, remembered as one of his best in ODIs. During this high-scoring game, India was chasing a huge target of 350. Tendulkar began carefully, letting Virender Sehwag lead the scoring. After Sehwag’s and other key wickets fell, Tendulkar became India’s mainstay, blending cautious and aggressive play. He reached his fifty in 47 balls and took control against Australia’s bowlers. 

Suresh Raina joined him, contributing 59 runs, but his dismissal led to another batting collapse. Tendulkar, however, kept his cool, displaying a mix of classic and innovative shots. He was particularly tough on spinners, crossing 150 runs with powerful hitting.

Tragically, Tendulkar was caught out for 175, a score achieved in 141 balls with 19 fours and 4 sixes. His wicket was a turning point; India needed 19 runs from 18 balls with four wickets left but couldn’t clinch the win, falling short by 3 runs.

Tendulkar’s innings stood out not just for the runs, but for the immense pressure he faced. He almost achieved a remarkable chase against a strong bowling lineup. Though he won Player of the Match, the narrow defeat was a bitter moment for him and Indian fans.

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10. Kapil Dev 175*: India’s first-ever ODI century

Kapil Dev’s innings of 175 not out against Zimbabwe in the 1983 World Cup was a monumental effort under immense pressure. India was in a precarious position, having lost early wickets and standing at 17 for 5. Kapil Dev, batting at number 6, played a captain’s knock, rescuing the team with an incredible display of batting. He hit 16 fours and 6 sixes, scoring 175 runs from 138 balls. This innings was not only India’s first-ever ODI century but also a turning point in the match and the tournament, leading India towards their first World Cup victory. Dev’s performance in this match is remembered as one of the greatest innings in the history of cricket.

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11. Adam Gilchrist 149

Adam Gilchrist’s iconic innings of 149 runs in the 2007 Cricket World Cup final against Sri Lanka is remembered as one of the greatest in ODI cricket. In a rain-reduced match of 38 overs per side, Gilchrist, known for his aggressive batting, delivered an extraordinary performance. His ability to dominate the Sri Lankan bowlers, including greats like Vaas and Muralitharan, was pivotal in Australia achieving 281/4 in their 38 overs. Even facing a strong bowling attack, he dominated them with ease, hitting 13 fours and 8 sixes. 

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12. Sachin Tendulkar 200*: First male player to score a double century in ODI

On February 24, 2010, Sachin Tendulkar, also known as the “God of Cricket”, achieved a historic milestone in cricket by becoming the first male player to score a double century in a One-Day International (ODI) match. He scored an unbeaten 200 runs against South Africa at the Captain Roop Singh Stadium in Gwalior. This extraordinary feat included 25 fours and three sixes. Tendulkar’s innings led India to a formidable total of 401/3. Thus, winning the match as South Africa was bowled out for 248. His performance was witnessed by nearly 30,000 fans and is celebrated as one of the greatest ODI innings.

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13. Sehwag 219 Runs: Second double-century in ODIs

Virender Sehwag’s incredible innings of 219 runs against West Indies in 2011 are among the most memorable performances in ODI cricket. This match took place in Indore at The Holkar Stadium. India won the toss and elected to bat. This match was the fourth in a five-match series against West Indies, which India led 2-1 before this game. 

Sehwag reached his double century in the 44th over of the match. He was particularly aggressive during this phase of his innings, cutting Andre Russell to the point fence to move past Tendulkar’s record. Sehwag was finally dismissed in the 47th over, caught in the deep off Kieron Pollard. 

This was Sehwag’s first double-century in ODIs and his 15th three-figure score in this format. It was a significant return to form, especially considering he had only managed 46 runs in the previous three matches of the series. India’s impressive score of 418-5, their best score in 50-over cricket at the time, was built around Sehwag’s innings. The team easily beat the West Indies by 153 runs after scoring this many runs.

Other notable contributions came from Gautam Gambhir, who scored 67 runs, and Suresh Raina, who added 55 runs. Their partnerships with Sehwag were crucial in building India’s total.

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