As they say ‘Cricket is a game of glorious uncertainties’, perfectly justified. The sport has entertained millions of fans across the globe with some of the most enthralling matches played over the years. Cherishing memories of one and all with some of the most spectacular games ever played in the history of sports. Every format of cricket has its charm but we are specifically going to limit ourselves to ‘One Day Internationals’. With the first game played on January 5, 1971, between England and Australia at Melbourne Cricket Ground, the ODI format has seen over 4000 matches in a span of 52 years. As mentioned prior, there is a long list of matches that left the spectators thrilled. Here we are going to discuss the 10 best ODI matches among those hundreds.
10. England vs India (Natwest Series Final 2002)
Remember that iconic celebration from Sourav Ganguly waving his shirt at the Lord’s balcony? It was always on, and such was the intensity of the game. One of the most memorable games for cricket fans in our tally of the 10 best ODI matches. England gave a target of 326 thanks to brilliant centuries from Marcus Trescothick & Naseer Hussain.
Chasing the mammoth target India was down and out as they lost 5 wickets when the score had reached only 146. Then came a memorable partnership between Yuvraj and Kaif but unfortunately for India, it wasn’t enough. It was M Kaif’s brilliance at the end which took India over the line with only three balls to spare having only two wickets in the bank.
9. New Zealand vs Australia (Chappell Hadlee Final 2007)
One of the finest games in the list of 10 best ODI matches. With Australia batting first in Hamilton, they managed a huge total of 346. Matthew Hayden was the standout with an unbeaten 181 which included 10 sixes and 11 fours.
Australia would have surely backed themselves to defend that score but that wasn’t the case, despite being reduced to 41-4, New Zealand made a roaring comeback with Craig McMillan scoring a brilliant 117 putting up a great show alongside Brendon Mccullum who scored 86 of 91 deliveries including the crucial six and a four in the final over when New Zealand needed seven runs with only one wicket in hand taking his side to a one-wicket win and clean sweeping Aussies 3-0 in the series.
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8. Pakistan vs India (Asia Cup 2014)
One heck of a contest, wasn’t it?
With India winning the toss and deciding to bat first in Dhaka. The Indian innings saw many ups and down ending up on 245, with the fifties from Ambati Rayudu, Rohit Sharma, and Ravindra Jadeja. A decent bowling effort from Pakistan.
While chasing, the Pakistani inning wasn’t much different from the Indian one, playing decently in patches and ordinary at others. Finding themselves in trouble at 203-6 in the 45th over. Luckily for Pakistani fans, it was one of those Shahid Afridi’s days as he blasted 33 of 18 balls to take Pakistan to a brilliant victory. It wasn’t as easy as Afridi made it look, in the last over when Pakistan needed 10 runs with a bare single wicket in hand. It was that time when Shahid Afridi smashed Ravichandran Ashwin for a couple of memorable sixes giving Pakistan an unforgettable win.
7. Australia vs New Zealand (Group Match 2015 World Cup)
It was one of those low-scoring thrillers. As Australia batted first and managed only 151 getting bowled out in the 32nd over, Trent Boult was the man for New Zealand destroying the Aussie batting lineup and holding on to a five-wicket haul.
With the small dimensions of Auckland cricket ground, New Zealand would have backed themselves to chase this little target any day of the week but this wasn’t the case at all as the Kiwi batting lineup was taken to the cleaners by Mitchell Starc taking 6 wickets with 2 consecutive wickets at the back end of the game when New Zealand was only 6 runs away from the victory. But it was Kane Williamson who kept his calm, hitting Pat Cummins for a beautiful six before Starc could have a final go, thus winning the match by one wicket.
6. Sri Lanka vs India (1st ODI 2009)
A Run feist at Rajkot stadium. India won the toss and batted first scoring a mammoth 414 in their allotted 50 overs. Virender Sehwag bashed the Sri Lankan bowlers to all parts of the ground scoring 146 runs. Sachin Tendulkar & Ms. Dhoni contributed with their fifties.
Sri Lanka’s response wasn’t bad either, Tilakarnate Dilshan led the chase with a superb knock of 160 runs. Kumar Sangakkara & Upul Tharanga piled up fifties. Sri Lanka fought till the last over but unfortunately for them, just fell short at the final hurdle, as they required 11 runs off the last over but Ashish Nehra managed the crucial wicket of Angelo Mathews who was well settled with 38 runs to his name, thus a defeat for Sri Lanka by bare 3 runs margin. A heartbreaking loss for Sri Lanka but one of the 10 best ODI matches to be ever played.
5. West Indies vs Australia (5th ODI World Series 1996)
On January 1st,1996 Sydney Cricket Ground saw an epic battle between the two heavyweights of the time. West Indies batted first and scored 172 runs in the rain infected 43 overs game. The start to West Indies’ batting was hazardous but later Carl Hooper scored a terrific 93 to give some sort of respectability to the score.
Australian start wasn’t indifferent either, in fact even worse as they lost 6 wickets for paltry 38 runs. But then it was all Michael Bevan’s show as he played a fantastic 78 runs inning taking his side single-handedly over the line. The best part was when Australia needed 4 runs of the last delivery and Michael Bevan smashed Roger Harper down the ground for a beautiful four and took his side to a special win.
4. South Africa vs Australia (Semi-final 1999 World Cup)
Australia won the toss and batted first at Edgbaston Cricket Ground putting up only 213 runs as they failed to play their entire quota of 50 overs getting bowled out in the 49th over. Steve Waugh and Michael Bevan clung on to crucial fifties. Shaun Pollock was the top performer for South Africa with the ball in hand getting a fifer to his name.
South Africa started their innings smoothly but later on with the quick succession of wickets found themselves in little trouble. Jack Kallis & Jhonty Rhodes rescued them to some extent before another flurry of wickets. With South Africa needing 9 runs of the final over and only 1 wicket in hand, Lance Klusener smashed Damien Fleming for two consecutive boundaries. Now, South Africa was only 1 run away from qualifying for the World Cup finals but what happened next broke millions of African fans. Michael Bevan brought all the fielders inside resulting in a run out as Lance Klusener ran a risky single while Allan Donald was ball-watching and failed to respond to Klusener’s call resulting in a run out at the batsman’s end. With 2 balls still in the pocket, one could say it was crazy running which defied South Africa from a place in the finals.
3. Pakistan vs India (Austral Asia Cup Final 1986)
An Indo-Pak contest cannot get better than this one. An absolute thriller at Sharjah Cricket Stadium, which is ranked third in our 10 best ODI matches list. Imran Khan won the toss and decided to put India into batting first. Great start to the Indian innings as there was a 117 runs partnership between the Indian openers Krishnamachari Srikkanth and Sunil Gavaskar. Followed by a half-century from Dilip Vengsarkar. The end wasn’t as special as India would have liked as they were restricted from 216-2 to 245-7. Wasim Akram and Imran Khan managed three & two wickets respectively.
India struck early with Chetan Sharma removing Mudassar Nazar for just 5 runs. After that Pakistan progressed slowly and steadily. With Javed Miandad holding one end, the other end wasn’t that stable as Pakistan kept on losing wickets at important junctions. At the end of the 49th over, Pakistan was seven wickets down for 235 runs requiring 11 runs in the last over.
Javed Miandad struck the first ball of Chetan Sharma’s over to long-off where Kapil Dev managed to keep the ball inside the rope and ran Wasim Akram out as he was trying to steal the second run. Miandad managed a four on the second ball followed by a single on the third ball of the over. Zulqarnain was clean bowled on the 4th ball of the over by Chetan Sharma leaving Pakistan with an uphill task of 5 runs from 2 balls with Tauseef Ahmed on strike. Tauseef Ahmed scrambled for a dangerous run on the fifth ball as there was a runout opportunity missed by Mohammed Azharuddin. With Pakistan needing 4 of the final ball, Javed Miandad dispatched the final ball in the stands and took Pakistan to a famous win. Javed Miandad was adjudged Man of the Match for his 116 runs masterclass.
2. South Africa vs Australia (5th ODI 2006)
Sensational game of cricket if there was one. Australia batted first after winning the toss. Adam Gilchrist and Simon Katich started the innings fantastically well for Australia, both of them scored quickfire half-centuries. Ricky Ponting played one heck of an inning, hitting the African bowlers for 9 sixes and 13 fours in his marathon innings of 164 runs, he was very well supported by Mike Hussey from the other end scoring 81 runs. A furious cameo of 27 from Andrew Symmonds took the Australian score to 434, the highest till that time.
Chasing these many runs was difficult, especially against the quality Aussie bowling lineup. But what happened next shocked the entire cricketing world. Boetta Dippenar getting bowled on just 1 run made it look even more difficult for Africa. Herschelle Gibbs then joined hands with Graeme Smith to put up a huge 187 runs partnership before Smith was dismissed for 90 runs, while Gibbs kept marching forward taking the kangaroo bowlers to the cleaners.
Ab de Villiers & Jack Kallis got out cheaply, with Herschelle Gibbs back into the pavilion after a superb knock of 175 off just 111 balls, Australia was seemingly back in the game, but not really as Mark Boucher and Johannes van der Wath kept the charge going. South Africa required only 7 of the final 6 balls, Mark Boucher gave the strike to Andrew Hall as he took a single of the first ball. Andrew Hall managed a beautiful four but got out the very next ball, Last man Nitni took a crucial single to give the strike back to Mark Boucher who dispatched the next ball for four getting to his fifty, meanwhile taking his side over the line. A breathtaking victory and a game among our collection of the top 10 best ODI matches.
1. England vs New Zealand (World Cup 2019 Final)
Can it ever get better than this one? What an outstanding game of cricket it turned out to be at the Lord’s Cricket Ground.
New Zealand batted first in the all-important World Cup final. Their batting was a roller coaster ride, up at some times and down at others. In the end, they managed to score 241 runs for the loss of 8 wickets. Henry Nicholas & Tom Latham were the top scorers with innings of 50 & 47 to their names respectively. An all-round effort from England bowlers as everyone chipped in with wickets. Liam Plunkett & Chris Woakes were the best with three wickets each.
England’s innings had a decent little start but the pressure of the World Cup final got to their batsmen. Ben Stokes was the man for England who along with the lower middle order got England close. In the end, New Zealand seemed to have it under control but with Trent Boult dropping the deadly crucial catch of Ben Stokes, things became a little difficult for New Zealand.
With 15 required off the final over, Stokes missed the first two balls of Boult’s over trying to swing too hard. It looked like New Zealand was almost there but what happened next stunned millions. Stokes dispatched the third bowl for a gigantic six, followed by a couple of runs, fortunately for England, these couple of runs turned out to be six runs as the throw from Martin Guptill crushed diving Ben Stokes and went for an overthrows 4. The last two balls saw two run-outs with one run scored from each resulting in a tie.
The super over turned out to be at the same level again as both teams managed 15 runs in it. England having the advantage of more boundaries was declared the winner according to the prescribed rule. Fortune seemed to be unknown to Kiwis. A final that left billions sad but surely one of the greatest games Cricket ever produced.