Some teams have a peculiar strategy of having a preference to bowl first in ODIs, since they want to know how many runs they need in 50 overs to win a match and in accordance, planning becomes much easier unlike batting first when the team has to set a total for the opposition to chase.
For example, India won 16 one-day matches on the trot from the period of November 2005 – May 2006 chasing totals.
Here are some of the highest runs ever scored by teams batting second in an ODI –
1) South Africa – 438/9
This was one of the most incredible ODI chases of all-time. The match was on March 12, 2006 at Johannesburg, where South Africa were playing world champions Australia in the final match of a 5-match series which was level at 2-2.
Australia batted first and piled up a massive 434/4 in 50 overs, with captain Ricky Ponting playing one of the finest ODI knocks ever, scoring 164 runs off 105 balls. Even the rest of the batsmen were striking the ball exceptionally well, on a flat pitch at the Wanderers.
South Africa started miserably, losing opener Boeta Dippenear early. But Graeme Smith and Herschelle Gibbs launched a breathtaking counter-attack against a weakened Australian bowling unit. Smith was eventually dismissed for a 55-ball 90, while Gibbs bettered Ponting’s effort with a 111-ball 175, hitting Australia’s bowlers to all parts of the ground and clearing the fence seven times.
Although there was a mini collapse, but Mark Boucher had a cool enough head to hit a memorable and quickfire 50 off just 43 balls, hitting Brett Lee for a four as winning runs for the side.
This will go down as an all-time great ODI match to watch, as Australia lost despite having 434 runs to defend.
2) Sri Lanka – 411/8
Sri Lanka already possess the world record for the highest total in ODIs, which is 443. They have the batting firepower to deliver as per the situation, and that is one of the key reasons of the team scoring 411/8 in 50 overs in a match against India at Rajkot in 2009.
India batted first in this match and almost took the game away from Sri Lanka, with Virender Sehwag going characteristically berserk, hitting 146 runs off just 102 balls. Fifties from Sachin Tendulkar and MS Dhoni led India to 414/7 in 50 overs.
Sri Lanka began strongly though, with a 188-run opening partnership between Upul Tharanga and Tillakratne Dilshan. Dilshan, Sehwag’s Sri Lankan equivalent scored an aggressive 160 off just 124 balls giving him team all the chances of pulling off a stunning chase, until he was dismissed by Harbhajan Singh.
With Sangakkara and Dilshan gone, the Lankan batters fell like a pack of cards and scrambled somehow to finish just 3 runs short of the target, in 50 overs. It was a great start to a 5 match series, with this being a rare run-feast between the two Asian sides.
3) New Zealand – 350/9
The Kiwis will feature five times in this list. It goes to show the team’s batting strength in the one-day game, having the grinders as well as the power-hitters. A testimony of this was the 350 they chased against Trans-Tasman archrivals Australia in Hamilton in February 2007.
Australia finished with 346/5 in 50 overs, and Hamilton was fortunate to witness a fighting and aggressive knock from the burly Matthew Hayden. Hayden hit 181 off just 166 balls, batting till the end of the innings. This remained the highest individual score by an Australian in ODIs until his fellow Queensland team-mate Shane Watson broke the record in 2011 against Bangladesh.
However, New Zealand had their own way of replying back to an Australian attack without the likes of Glenn McGrath and Brett Lee. Craig McMillan hit a 96-ball 117 and Brendon McCullum stayed unbeaten till the end, hitting 86 runs off just 91 balls as the duo guided the hosts home by 1 wicket. Being the last match of the ODI series and just prior to the World Cup, New Zealand whitewashed the world champions 3-0.
4) India – 347 all out
It is again Australia who is the opposition, and the irony of it all is that they have remained world champions in ODI cricket for the last 13 years. And the team to have scored highly against them batting second this time is India. The match was in Hyderabad in November 2009, when Australia toured India for a 7-match series.
Ricky Ponting’s men batted first after winning the toss and ended with a monumental score of 350/4 in 50 overs. Shaun Marsh hit a run-a-ball 112 while Shane Watson backed him adequately to score an 89-ball 93 and the opening partnership was a huge 145 in 25.2 overs. Yet, it had to take a blitzkrieg from Cameron White to get Australia’s run rate upto 7 per over, as he smashed a 33-ball 57.
Not many thought that India would come out all guns blazing against a rookie but fired-up Australian bowling attack. But for the umpteenth time Australia saw the best of Sachin Tendulkar, as the maestro went on hit a magical 175 runs off just 141 balls, with some of the shots he played reminding many of the Tendulkar of the 90s. Unfortunately, like the 90s he was the lone fighter with only Suresh Raina scoring a run-a-ball 59. By the time he was out, the game had come to a stage of being a thriller.
Eventually, Australia held their nerve to win by a narrow margin of 3 runs and went 3-2 up in the series.
5) Pakistan – 344/8
India were yet again at the receiving end, showing the perennial weakness of having a not-so-strong bowling attack in ODIs since decades. This time, it was against archrivals Pakistan in 2004 in Karachi.
It was the first match of the series and also the first for both the teams after the World Cup 2003 game at Centurion.
Pakistan sent India into bat on a pitch with a slight amount of 9:30 am moisture, but Sehwag and Tendulkar negated the effect with a blazing start. When Sehwag was dismissed, it was only the 15th over with the run rate being above 10. It had to take a steady innings from Rahul Dravid for India to bat out the 50 overs with a 104-ball 99, unfortunately missing out on a well-deserved hundred.
Pakistan were not in the game at all as they were 169/3 in 27.4 overs, with Mohammad Yousuf dismissed for a painstaking 73 off 68 balls. It had to take a gutsy and attacking hundred from the captain Inzamam ul Haq to get Pakistan closer to the target, and he had almost single-handedly won his country the game with 122 runs off just 102 balls. The manner in which the burly man from Multan came down the track to the Indian bowlers was a joy to watch.
Though, fortune was on India’s side with the tailenders ruining Inzamam’s efforts and wicketkeeper Moin Khan being unsuccessful in doing a Javed Miandad, as Pakistan needed 6 runs off the last ball to win the match.
6) New Zealand – 340/5
This effort came from the Kiwis two days before they successfully chased down 350 against Australia in February 2007. This was the second match of the ODI series with New Zealand having a chance to wrap up the series, being 1-0 up.
Australia were sent into bat by a confident New Zealand side, and were without the services of biggies such as Adam Gilchrist, Ricky Ponting, Michael Clarke and Andrew Symonds. So Michael Hussey, the stand-in captain in this series, decided to lead from the front with the bat in his hand as well by promoting himself up the order to No.4. And he did not disappoint, smashing a 84-ball 105 to guide Australia to an improbable 336/4 in 50 overs, giving them a genuine chance to win.
New Zealand had a tough task in hand, but on a flat batting deck in Auckland, anything was possible. Ross Taylor proved why he was one of the quickest emerging players in world cricket, hitting a nerveless and effective 127-ball 117, which included as many as 16 fours. He was supported by aggressive innings from Peter Fulton and Craig McMillan, who guided New Zealand to the target with 8 balls to spare.
The Black Caps won the series 2-0, and this chase is much more valuable as Australia had the same bowling attack which went on to play the World Cup games.
7) New Zealand – 340/7
This time, New Zealand achieved this score against England. But it was in another home game, and the venue was Napier with the year being 2008.
England’s batsmen did extremely well to finish at 340. Fifties from Phil Mustard, Kevin Pietersen and captain Paul Collingwood got them to the total after 50 overs. Collingwood hit 6 sixes and remained unbeaten on 54 runs off 30 balls and eventually that proved to be the difference between the two teams.
New Zealand in reply, started briskly with a half-century from Brendon McCullum at the top of the order. Jamie How hit a superb 116-ball 139 but the lower order contrived to end the match in a thrilling tie with Luke Wright bowling a fine last over, giving away just 6 runs.
8) England – 338/8
This is England’s highest ever run chase till date and it came against India in a World Cup game in Bangalore in 2011. This was an incredible performance from England considering that they were the underdogs coming into this game, being almost upset in their previous game against Holland while India defeated Bangladesh.
India batted first to finish at 338 all out, with Sachin Tendulkar scoring a remarkable 120 off just 115 balls and Gautam Gambhir and Yuvraj Singh scored fifties. The rest of the batting collapsed and that is what cost India in the end.
England in reply were led by their captain Andrew Strauss who played an uncharacteristic knock, hitting a magnificent 158 runs off just 145 balls, taking calculative risk against the Indian bowlers on a belter of a pitch. Ian Bell also scored a 71-ball 69 even as India took the fight till the last ball of the England innings. The Indian bowlers slackened to an extent in the end and Graeme Swann took full advantage, to get England a tie out of nowhere.
It was by far the best match of the World Cup 2011, which India went to win.
9) New Zealand – 335/5
This run chase is different because it came at Perth, but once again it was Australia who was at the receiving end. It came in a Commonwealth Bank series match in January 2007.
In this game though, Australia was at full strength. Matthew Hayden and Ricky Ponting scored centuries while a good finish from Michael Hussey led the team to a colossal total of 343/5 in 50 overs.
Batting second, New Zealand were reeling at 150/4 in 27.2 overs until Jacob Oram and Brendon McCullum decided to have some fun, now that they had nothing to lose. They put on a 136-ball 193 run partnership with Oram showing why he is such a dangerous batsman. He finished with a 72-ball 101 while McCullum, one of the most powerful strikers of the ball, took 39 balls to score 46 runs. Eventually, the Kiwis lost by 8 runs as 335 in 50 overs was just not adequate enough.
But what made it a riveting contest to watch was the manner in which Australia’s bowlers despite in full force were taken apart, in particular Glenn McGrath who was hit for 72 in 10 overs.
10) New Zealand – 334 all out
And finally it is the Black Caps who end the list with a 334 against India in 2009 in an ODI at Christchurch.
It was the third ODI of a 5-match series with India being 1-0 up already, New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum bravely sent India in to bat first but what he and his men saw was a Sachin Tendulkar onslaught as he took on the New Zealand bowlers with disdain, facing just 133 balls to score 163 runs before being retired hurt. He was inches close of getting to the 200 mark in that match. All the Indian batsmen fired to get the total to 392/4 in 50 overs.
New Zealand in reply, were always going to find it tough chasing 393. But the aggressive opening duo of Jesse Ryder and McCullum went hard at the Indian bowling, to give their team a glimmer of hope to win. Ryder scored a 80-ball 105 and McCullum ended with a 68-ball 71. But the rest of the batsmen did not contribute as much and that led to the team’s downfall. It was a 83-run partnership in 7 overs between bowlers Kyle Mills and Tim Southee that got New Zealand to 334 eventually.
The Kiwis missed Daniel Vettori dearly, but with this 58-run win, India went 2-0 up in the series with two to play.