Comparison of fastest ODI hundreds - AB de Villiers, Corey Anderson and Shahid Afridi
He is the No.1 ranked ODI batsman in the world and the No.2 ranked Test batsman. Besides compatriot Hashim Amla, he is the only batsman in the world to average above 50 in both ODIs and Tests. And former Australian wicketkeeping great Adam Gilchrist just recently said he is the most valuable cricketer in the world.
Yes, you guessed it right. The man in question is AB de Villiers - a complete freakshow!
What de Villiers did against the West Indies in the 2nd One-Day International (ODI) yesterday was simply phenomenal. He scored a hundred off just 31 balls with 9 boundaries and 16 sixes, beating Corey Anderson’s record for the fastest ODI hundred in the process.
To come out to bat as late as in the 39th over of an ODI and then almost out-score Amla, who had batted for the entire 50 overs, is just out of this world. To give you a better idea of de Villiers’ stupendous achievement, nobody has ever come out to bat after the 30th over of an ODI innings and scored a century apart from de Villiers, who has now done it twice.
There is absolutely no comparison to de Villiers' level. Yet, I am going to sin a little bit and compare the only three ODI centuries that have been scored in less than 40 deliveries.
There is no doubt that AB's record century yesterday was special, not for scoring the fastest ton in ODI history but because of the kind of shots he played and the fact that he racked up 149 off only 44 deliveries.
AB walked out to bat in the 39th over and got out in the 50th; Hashim Amla batted for the entire 50 overs and scored just 4 more runs than AB did. One can't even dream of playing such innings; think about actually doing it.
Corey Anderson's innings, meanwhile, was special in its own way. The match had been reduced to 21 overs a side and Jesse Ryder, who had opened the innings for New Zealand, was already smashing the West Indians around. Anderson walked in and took the attack to another level. His innings was special because he broke a record that had stood the test of time - for 18 long years.
Afridi’s innings came in more difficult circumstances
Imagine what Shahid Afridi must be thinking right now. He has played international cricket for 19 years, held a world record for 18 of those years, and then has seen it being broken twice in his final two years of ODI cricket.
Afridi's innings, despite being the slowest of the three centuries, was special because it was the first ever ODI hundred scored in less than 40 deliveries. But what was even more extraordinary about Afridi's century was the fact that it was his first ever innings in international cricket.
He was in the team merely as a leg spinner who could use the long handle but shot to fame overnight because of one of the most brutal attacks to be ever witnessed in ODIs.
Arguably, Afridi also faced a tougher bowling attack, consisting of Chaminda Vaas and Muttiah Muralitharan, than the one faced by Anderson and de Villiers, both of whose centuries have come against a weak West Indies outfit. And he also had to deal with 5 fielders on the boundary, as compared to 4 fielders at the time of Anderson’s and de Villiers’ innings.
It could also be argued that Afridi, who came in to bat in the 11th over the innings, was under significantly more pressure than Anderson and AB were when they came out to bat.
While Anderson was in the middle of an ODI that had been reduced to a 21-over hit-athon, AB walked out in the 39th over with South Africa cruising at 247-1. They both had the license to destroy the bowling without worrying about losing their wicket.
Both Anderson and AB had to sustain the momentum that had been built by the batsmen before them; Afridi, on the other hand, had to start building the momentum that Pakistan desperately required in order to qualify for the final of the quadrangular tournament.
Pakistan not only had to win the game against Sri Lanka, they had to do it with a significant margin in order to qualify for the final. It was a pressure game.
For Afridi to do it in these circumstances in his first ever international innings was truly special.
De Villiers’ record unlikely to be broken
Even though all three fastest centuries are special in their own way, de Villiers’ innings is the best of all in my opinion for its sheer brutality and entertainment.
I have never seen anyone demolish a bowling attack the way AB did yesterday. It was quite unbelievable.
Afridi's record stood for 18 years; AB's might never be broken.