There are 120 balls to be faced by a batting team in T20 cricket. So there is hardly any time for a batsman to settle down and then look to make a huge score. Its either “Hit out or get out”. Despite this challenge that a batsman has to face, there have been as many as five hundreds in T20 cricket so far with big names being able to score at a brisk rate. Runs have come thick and fast and that has given fans value for their money and time as they have been able to entertain like movie stars, in a span of just 90 minutes.
Here are those innings which have been breath-taking to watch over the years.
1) Chris Gayle (West Indies) – 117 off 57 balls vs. South Africa, 2007
This innings of Crhis Gayle came in the opening match of the World T-20 2007 in South Africa in September 2007 at the Wanderers Stadium in Johannesburg, also called the ‘Bull Ring’.
It was the ideal way to start off the championship and the man to score the first ever T-20 international century ideally being Chris Gayle. The Windies opener, despite not playing in the home team, made even the most ardent of South African fans cheer for him as his ‘stand and deliver’ hitting saw many smiles spread around. The only people in the stadium who were not amused were the South African fielders!
The innings had as many as 10 sixes and 7 fours, coming at a colossal strike rate of 205.26. West Indies were batting first and ended with 205 for 6 in 20 overs, unexpectedly giving South Africa a tough challenge. But Gayle’s innings went in vain as Herschelle Gibbs was in a way successful to match Gayle’s efforts with a 55-ball 90, which gave South Africa an 8-wicket victory.
2) Brendon McCullum (New Zealand) – 116 not out off 56 balls vs. Australia, 2010
Gayle and McCullum played together for Kolkata Knight Riders in the 2009 and 2010 IPLs, yet ironically two of the best batsmen in T-20 cricket could never win them the championship! Both of them had a century to their names and McCullum scored it in a T-20 international against archrivals Australia at Christchurch in February 2010.
McCullum took full advantage of the pint-sized ground at Christchurch, having such short boundaries as he opened the batting for New Zealand, while the team had the freedom to bat first in this game. Australia’s bowling attack did have express pacers such as Shaun Tait and Dirk Nannes but the feisty Kiwi opener treated them with disdain as well as a tremendous amount of cheekiness in his shot selection. Out of his 116, he scored more than 30 runs by playing his innovative ‘McScoop’ which is a scoop shot played over the wicket-keeper’s head, just like Tillakratne Dilshan of Sri Lanka. Every bowler, in particular Shaun Tait was a victim of that shot as his timing was outstanding. While his other shots had generated tremendous bat speed and placement to easily get fours if not sixes. When McCullum is hitting the ball murderously, few bowling attacks can stop him. This was one such innings which reminded many of his blitzkrieg in the IPL 2008 game against the Royal Challengers Bangalore in Bangalore where he scored 158. He remained unbeaten in the end, with 12 fours and 8 sixes in his 56-ball 116 as New Zealand set Australia a target of 215 to win.
The match eventually was a tie but New Zealand won in the one-over eliminator to level the two match T-20 series 1-1 at home. It was one of the finest T-20 innings of the year 2010, although Michael Hussey’s fifty in a crunch semifinal against Pakistan three months later was able to match it.
3) Tillakratne Dilshan (Sri Lanka) – 104 not out off 57 balls vs. Australia, 2011
Australia was at the receiving end again, this time of another batsman who plays the scoop shot better than any of his contemporaries in world cricket. It is the explosive opener from Sri Lanka, Tillakratne Dilshan who came up with a stunning T-20 hundred against Australia in Pallekele in the first of the two T-20 internationals played at home in August 2011.
Australian skipper Cameron White won the toss and chose to bowl first. He perhaps underestimated the Sri Lankan batting line-up and his team paid the price for it. Dilshan opening with Mahela Jayawardene spells trouble for any opposition in T-20 cricket but this was Dilshan’s day as he pounded the Australian bowlers on a pitch which had a tinge of moisture in it. White’s strategy of bowling just five of the twenty overs with spin was inexplicable and ridiculous, and the Sri Lankan took full advantage of it. Barring Brett Lee, the other quick bowlers went for above 10 runs per over, as he finished with 12 fours and 5 sixes In his 57-ball 104 batting the entire 20 overs. Sri Lanka’s score was 198/3, and that was enough to demoralize the Australian side which wanted to prepare for this tour in style by utilizing the T-20 internationals to good effect.
The hosts won by a huge 35 run margin, also due to the 6/16 spell from Ajantha Mendis and went 1-0 up in the 2 match series.
4) Suresh Raina (India) – 101 off 60 balls vs. South Africa, 2010
Finally India makes it name in the other T-20 records of all time, besides winning the World Cup in 2007. And fittingly, it is Raina who is the only Indian in this list, having scored a century in T-20 cricket. He is also the sole Indian to have scored atleast one Test, ODI and T-20 international hundred. Speaking about the T-20 century, it came against South Africa in the 2010 T-20 World Cup in the West Indies in a round-robin match at Gros Islet.
Raina almost came in to bat immediately after the Indian innings began, following the dismissal of his Chennai Super Kings teammate and Indian opener, Murali Vijay. This gave them the right platform to play his typical natural game in T-20 cricket, which is to bat with calculated aggression. South Africa had an impressive bowling attack in the tournament, with the likes of Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel, Albie Morkel and Roelef van der Merwe making a fine quartet in T-20 cricket. But Raina was in such good form during the IPL prior to this tournament, that he successfully carried it forward to this game. His innings had 9 fours and 5 sixes, at a strike rate of 168.33.
He was eventually dismissed however, with only 2 balls to go as India’s total was a massive 186/5 in 20 overs and that was enough, but only just as India won by 14 runs.
5) Mahela Jayawardene (Sri Lanka) – 100 off 64 balls vs. Zimbabwe, 2010
How can Jayawardene’s name not be mentioned in this list? He is amongst the highest run-getters in this format of the game, having become a wholesome batsman since he has changed his conservative style of batting to extend his repertoire of shots to suit T-20 cricket. He was appropriately rewarded with a century against Zimbabwe at Providence in Guyana in the World T-20 2010.
The conditions were mainly overcast with the pitch expected to see some turn. As a result, Zimbabwe’s spinners had a gala time against the other Sri Lankan batsman, after captain Kumar Sangakkara won the toss and decided to bat first. It was Mahela all the way who made the most of the 120 balls available, and was the last wicket of the Sri Lankan innings to fall after having faced 64 balls for his hundred, having smashed 10 fours and 4 sixes.
Sri Lanka set the minnows a target of 174 to win, but rain interfered after just 5 overs of the Zimbabwe innings and courtesy the D/L methods, the Lankans prevailed by 14 runs.
6) Ricky Ponting (Australia) – 98 not out off 55 balls vs. New Zealand, 2005
This was the first ever T-20 international played in the history of the game. New Zealand hosted traditional rivals Australia in a one-off match at Eden Park Auckland in February 2005. And there could have been no one better than Ricky Ponting to set the tone of the format to become a success in the last seven years.
The ex-Australian captain was in tremendous batting form during that period and led from the front in this game. The whole world knew of his attacking abilities in the ODIs and hence he played in more or less the same style. The innings involved as many as five sixes and eight fours, at a strike rate of a magnificent 178.18. Although Ponting has publicly admitted that he never took T-20 cricket seriously and was not a big fan of this format, ironically he was the one to have first scored a fifty and fell 2 runs short of a scintillating century. The Aussies finished at 214/5 in 20 overs, which was a daunting score for the Black Caps to overhaul. Australia won by 44 runs with Punter declared the player of the match despite Michael Kasprowicz giving away 29 runs in four overs, picking up 4 wickets more crucially.
7) Mahela Jayawardene (Sri Lanka) – 98 not out off 56 balls vs. West Indies, 2010
This is the second time that Mahela’s name has been mentioned in this list. It is because he had a brilliant World Cup in 2010 and two of his best innings ever occurred in the same tournament. This one though was even more vital considering it came against the hosts, West Indies in the Super 8s stage of the tournament.
Sri Lanka yet again had the luck of the coin with Sangakkara winning the toss and elected to bat first on a much quicker Barbados pitch and sunny conditions, making it conducive for batting. Jayawardene took on a rookie West Indies bowling attack and made merry of the dropped catches in the field. He was unlucky to miss out on his second hundred of the tournament, stranded on 98 by the time the innings came to a standstill. It came at a strike rate of 175 and had 9 fours and 4 sixes.
Sri Lanka’s winning streak continued, as they beat a hapless home team by 57 runs to make it to the semifinals of the championship as the idea to send Jayawardene to open the batting following his successes with Kings XI Punjab in the IPL that year, turned out to be a masterstroke.
8) Chris Gayle (West Indies) – 98 off 66 balls vs. India, 2010
The 2010 World T-20 saw some breathtaking batting performances. This was yet another one and again it came from Chris Gayle, one of the supremos when it comes to batting in this format of the game. This innings though came against one of the favourites India in a Super 8s game in Barbados.
India won the toss and elected to field first on a pitch where their batsmen could have flourished, as the West Indies does not possess the strongest bowling attack in T-20 cricket. Dhoni and co. had to pay the price for it as Gayle, who was also the captain of the home team in the game decided to go berserk especially against India’s spinners. It resulted in Gayle hitting five boundaries but more importantly, he cleared the boundary seven times and that propelled his score to 98 before he was run out, which denied him a second century in T-20 cricket and in World Cup history. This being a Super 8 game and India bowling first, were all the ingredients Gayle needed to score heavily since the bowlers were nervous following a loss to Australia in the last game.
India required 170 to win which was not out of bounds, but the batting was not upto the mark with the hosts bowling a barrage of bouncers to get the Indian batters out. West Indies upset India by 14 runs, which ruined their chances of making it to the last four.
9) Tillakratne Dilshan (Sri Lanka) – 96 not out off 57 balls vs. West Indies, 2009
The World T-20 2009 in England was Dilshan’s tournament, as he shot to fame due to the fact that he unleashed his ‘Dilscoop’ shot for the first time here. Opposition bowlers were left clueless as to where to bowl to him, since he was in such sublime form. West Indies however suffered from it the most, with Dilshan proving why he is the one of the world’s most dangerous batsmen, capable of giving nightmares to bowlers.
What was even more unique about this innings is that it came in a crunch semifinal game with West Indies being surprise qualifiers, having beaten the likes of India and England in the Super 8 stages. They had the attitude to upstage a stronger team like Sri Lanka but Dilshan gave them a reality check, after Chris Gayle won the toss and sent the Lankans into bat as a sign of no fear in their ranks. Dilshan batted in the same flair the whole innings, despite there being not much support from the rest of the batsmen. Sri Lanka finished at a lowly 158/5 in 20 overs, but his contribution did not go in vain as West Indies were a one-man army in this game with Gayle carrying the bat throughout the innings.
Sri Lanka won by 57 runs, making it to the final against Pakistan which they went on lose, ending as runners up in the tournament.
10) JP Duminy (South Africa) – 96 not out off 54 balls vs. Zimbabwe, 2010
This innings did not come in the World Cup, but in a T-20 international against Zimbabwe at Kimberley in a home series for South Africa. It would have been a shocker if Duminy’s name would not have appeared in this list since he is one of the most sought-after batsmen in T-20 cricket throughout the world, having that amazing ability to turn matches with his level-headed style of batting.
It was the second game of the 2-match T-20 series with South Africa already winning the first one. Duminy decided to enjoy himself against a demoralized Zimbabwean bowling attack which had 4 out of their 6 bowlers being spinners. There were ten fours and four sixes with a strike rate of 177.77 as he kept on slogging the bowlers to all parts of the ground. By the time the feast came to a halt, Duminy was a boundary short of a memorable century but he had done his job extremely well batting at No.4, as his innings took South Africa to a huge 194/6.
Zimbabwe though put up a spirited chase as the batsmen took advantage of a bowling attack without Dale Steyn. South Africa escaped home by 8 runs to take the series 2-0, and Duminy was declared the player of the match for his efforts.