Did you know? A total of 334 scored by England against India in the 1975 World Cup once held the record for the highest One-Day International team score. That total was achieved in a 60-over match then, but today even 350 runs on the board, as seen in the fourth ODI of the India-Australia match, is not enough. Teams score 300 for fun today and have even crossed 400 many times. England scoring 481 against Australia in June last year currently holds the record for the highest ODI team score, but South Africa’s 438/9 chasing Australia 434/4 at the Wanderers in 2006 too held the record for almost nine years. As the match completes 13 years today, we take a look at what is often termed ‘greatest ODI of all time’.
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The fifth ODI of Australia’s tour of South Africa was the series decider, with the teams tied at 2-2 then. Some legends of the game were in the line-ups, Adam Gilchrist, Ricky Ponting, Michael Hussey, Brett Lee, Graeme Smith, AB De Villiers, Jacques Kallis, Makhaya Ntini and many more.
The Australian captain won the toss and chose to bat and his openers Adam Gilchrist and Simon Katich got them off to a great start, going at over a run-a-ball, with 97 in just 15 overs. After the wicketkeeper walked back to the pavilion, the captain arrived and he was the dominant partner in a century partnership with Katich, smashing fours and sixes galore.
The departure of Katich at 216/2 in just 30.2 overs brought Michael Hussey to the crease and 'Mr Cricket' along with his captain went hammer and tongs at the Proteas attack in a partnership of 158 runs in just 94 balls. Ponting’s career-best of 164 featuring 13 fours and nine sixes and Hussey’s 81 off 51 balls, along with Andrew Symonds quickfire 27 in 13 balls, ensured the Kangaroos had created a record with 434/4.
Kallis and Ntini were all smashed around the park and conceded at over eight runs an over and when captain Smith was the most economical at 7.25 runs per over in his four overs, you know how the bowlers were treated that day.
After Kallis gave a fiery dressing room talk with the words, “Come on, guys: it's a 450-wicket. They're 15 short!", the South Africans set out to achieve the improbable. They, however, received a jolt first-up, as unlike the Aussies, their opening partnership was broken in the second over itself with Boeta Dippenaar being dismissed.
Herschelle Gibbs, is known for hitting six sixes in an over and you can surely expect him for a magical knock, and he delivered. He and Smith scored at a strike rate of over 150 and hammered the Aussie attack led by Brett Lee. Symonds ended the crucial partnership, dismissing Smith for 99 off a mere 55 deliveries. Gibbs followed suit. Just like the Aussie innings, the first wicket partnership laid the platform for the innings and the no 3 scored his career-best.
Who would’ve thought South African legends Kallis and De Villiers would depart within no time, scoring less than a run-a-ball in arguably their country's most popular match. Reeling at 327/5 in 37.4, the team still needed 112 runs from 76 balls and perhaps only a miracle could’ve saved them.
Wicketkeeper Mark Boucher came to the party and held one end as all-rounder Johan van der Wath returned the trashing he received earlier in the day, smacking 35 off just 18 balls. When he departed, South Africa needed 36 in 21 balls and Boucher anchored the innings despite losing partners on the other end, hitting the winning runs and scoring a memorable 50.
Even the International Cricket Council thinks the match was probably the 'the greatest ODI of all time'.
While South Africa's record of the highest team total was broken, it still is the highest team total while chasing. And the combined tally of 872 runs is the highest in an ODI.