ODI cricket has come a long way since its inception way back in 1971. In case you don't know, the first ever one-day International was never planned in advance. When the first 3 days of the 1971 Melbourne test between Australia and England were washed out due to rain, the officials decided to instead play a one-off 8 balls an over 40-over match limited-overs fixture.
What started as an exhibition soon transformed into a super-popular format. ODI cricket has provided many memorable moments to cricket lovers all around the globe and looks set to do the same for many more years to come.
Some outstanding batsmen, bowlers, all-rounders, and even fielders have graced this format over the years. There have been many greats who have performed exceedingly and to select a few of them is truly a Herculean task.
Every cricket lover will have his/her own list of an all-time XI. Here's mine:
A dynamite at the top of the order, he was one of the batsmen who changed the way openers approached the innings in the first 15 overs.
His counter-attacking approach was one of the reasons behind Sri Lanka's 1996 World Cup triumph.
He played 445 ODIs, scoring 13430 runs, at a strike-rate of over 91. The reason why he pips another legend, Adam Gilchrist (believe me, it was a tough call !), for the opener's slot, are his 323 wickets at an economy of under 5. Now these are staggering numbers for a part-time spinner, aren't they?
An attacking opener who can give you 10 overs is an asset for any team.
Who else? The master blaster, the most successful International batsman of all time, they call him the "God of cricket" in India.
He has played the most number of ODI matches (463) and has the most number of runs (18426), most centuries (49), most half-centuries (96) and also the most number of man of the match awards (62).
With being equally adept at playing attacking cricket and playing the role of a sheet anchor, he brings immense value to any team. No matter how much one tries to say about him, it still won't be enough to describe his legacy.
#3 Virat Kohli
The fact that Virat Kohli makes this list only being 10 years into his International career is a testament to how much he has grown as a cricketer to become the best batsman in the world across all formats.
However, ODI has always been the format where he has dominated the most throughout his career. He has already close to 10,000 ODI runs in 211 matches at an astonishing average of 58.21 and having already scored 35 centuries, he looks set to become the highest century-maker in the format in the next few years.
In his early days, his strike-rate used to be slightly on the lower side but in the last few years, he has easily adapted to play more attacking cricket and now his career strike rate is over 92. He is a masterful chaser and has scored the most ODI centuries while chasing.
To boast of such a resume at just 29 is a big thing and will easily make most of the lists when it comes to the greatest ODI players of all time.
In an era, where anything around 230-250 was considered to be a par score in a 60-over ODI game, to bat with such dominance as this man did was the rarest thing.
He terrorized bowling attacks all over the world with his brutal hitting and was an integral part of the dominant West Indian setup in the 70s and 80s.
He played 187 ODIs, scoring 6721 runs at an average of 47. He was the first of his kind and to boast of a strike-rate of over 90 in a time when the ODI format was still finding its feet puts him into a league of his own.
In 2002, Wisden rated him as the greatest ODI batsman of all time.
The most versatile batsman of the modern era, AB de Villiers defines professionalism in the truest sense of the word.
A batsman, a keeper, a captain and being one of the best fielders the game has ever seen, AB de Villiers has done it all, at the same time maintaining a high level of professionalism in his conduct on and off the field.
Labelled as "Mr. 360", he is one of the cleanest strikers of the cricket ball you will ever witness and is capable of playing 4-5 different shots of the same delivery.
He holds the record of the fastest 50, fastest 100 and fastest 150 in ODI cricket. He also holds the record of hitting joint-most sixes in an innings (16), Rohit Sharma being the other.
He recently retired from International cricket, still at the peak of his powers, and with close to 10,000 ODI runs in 228 matches at an average of 53.5 and with a strike-rate of 101.1 (the only player in this list to have a strike-rate of over a 100 in his career), he is definitely one of the greatest ODI batsmen to have played the game.
#6 Mahendra Singh Dhoni (c) (wk)
Arguably the greatest finisher the game has ever seen, MS Dhoni will definitely go down as one of the greats of the ODI format.
Armed with brutal power and a calm head on his shoulders, MSD has won India many matches from the most precarious of positions.
Not just his batting, MSD will forever be remembered for his razor-sharp skills behind the sticks and his cricketing brain which has bamboozled the best of oppositions. He is the greatest captain Indian cricket has seen and will be irreplaceable the day he decides to hang up his boots.
One could argue that he would have easily got at least 14,000-15,00 ODI runs if he would have batted at 3 or 4 for his entire career, but that cannot be changed now. Being the selfless personality that he is, more than 10,000 runs (and still counting) in 321 matches at an average of over 50 batting at 5-6 doesn't come every day.
He will also be the wicket-keeper and the captain of this XI.
Lance Klusener was one of the most feared batsmen of his time. He was capable of clearing the ropes with ease and while he was at the crease, no target seemed out of reach for South Africa.
His exploits in the 1999 World cup are still fresh in the minds of the cricket lovers, where he was rightly adjudged man of the tournament.
He ended his ODI career with an impressive average of 41.1 and a strike-rate of 89.2, which is brilliant for someone who used to bat in the lower-middle order.
He was an equally useful bowler as evident by his 192 wickets in 171 games at an economy of under 5 and was a prized asset for the South African team.
#8 Wasim Akram
Capable of making the batsmen dance to the tune of his swing bowling, Wasim Akram is one of the greatest bowlers to play the ODI format.
He was the first bowler to take 500 ODI wickets and ended his career with 502 wickets in 356 matches at an economy of 3.9
He was also a useful lower-order batsman capable of providing a late flourish to the innings and ended up with 6 half-centuries at a strike-rate of over 88.
#9 Brett Lee
Brett Lee just pips another great, Waqar Younis, to make this list, owing to the extra pace which he brings to the table.
He is the fastest to 300 ODI wickets and made the best of batsmen uncomfortable at his peak, purely through his searing pace. He was an indispensable cog in the Australian lineup throughout his career and ended up with 380 ODI wickets in 221 matches, the second most for an Australian, at an economy of under 5, quite remarkable for someone for whom pace was his primary weapon.
The most successful bowler in International cricket, it is hard to leave out Muttiah Muralitharan from any XI.
Just like Sachin Tendulkar in batting, Muralitharan has set new benchmarks in bowling records which are hard to be broken anytime soon.
He ended up with 534 ODI wickets (the most for any bowler) in 350 matches at an economy of under 4 and was his country's main weapon, capable of bowling pretty much at any stage of the innings and in any condition.
He bamboozled batsmen across the globe with his masterful art of spin bowling and pin-point accuracy.
#11 Glenn McGrath
Bowl at the top of the off-stump and make the batsmen do a mistake. This was the mantra of the most successful fast bowler in International cricket till date, and ODI cricket was no different.
For a bowler who used to bowl in the first 15 overs and at the death, to finish with 381 ODI wickets in 250 matches, the most for Australia, at an economy of 3.88 (yes, you read it right) is quite remarkable.
He was the man of the tournament in the 2007 World cup, his last ODI assignment.
There has been no one like him and probably will never be.
#12th Man: Saqlain Mushtaq
Before you get surprised at his inclusion in this list, here is a piece of stat:
Saqlain Mushtaq is the fastest to 100,150,200 and 250 ODI wickets.
He was the inventor of "doosra", a famous delivery that has bamboozled a lot of right-handed batsmen.
He played his last ODI at the age of 26 (would you believe that !) and one can only wonder how many wickets he would have ended with if he would have played for another 8-10 years.
He still ended with 288 ODI wickets in just 169 games and will come into this playing XI if the pitch is more suited to spinners, probably at the expense of Brett Lee.
What's your all-time ODI XI?
Sound off in the comments section !!!