The year 2016 has been an immensely entertaining one for the cricket lovers. With both bat and ball, there have been many superlative individual performances that enthralled spectators and steamrolled the opposition.
Quite a few records were broken and batsmen like David Warner, who amassed truckloads of runs, will end the year with their reputation enhanced significantly. More than 60 centuries were scored in ODI cricket in this year.
As the year draws to a close, let us take a look at the top five blistering hundreds in ODIs in 2016.
#1 Jos Buttler 105 (76) vs South Africa, Bloemfontein (Strike Rate – 138)
Joe Root may often win plaudits for being the most consistent batsman for England but it is the presence of Jos Buttler at no. 4 that intimidates the opposition the most in limited overs cricket. With his swashbuckling style of batting, Buttler can easily alter the course of a match in the span of a few overs.
Buttler strikes at a jaw-dropping rate of 120 runs per 100 hundred balls in ODIs, a rate which is considered very decent in T20 cricket as well.
In the ODI series against the Proteas early this year, England got off to a spectacular start thanks to Buttler's breathtaking century. In the first ODI at Bloemfontein, Buttler plundered 105 runs off just 76 balls and powered England to a mammoth 399. Right from the outset, Buttler displayed murderous intent and ripped the South African bowling attack to shreds. Such was his aggression that even the mighty Morne Morkel and the wily Imran Tahir were rendered ineffective.
That this is his slowest ODI century speaks volumes about the magnitude of havoc he can wreak on the bowlers. Buttler is yet to make an impact in Test cricket but his effectiveness in T20s and ODIs is beyond any doubt.
#2 David Miller 118* (79) vs Australia, Durban (Strike Rate – 149)
Without a shred of doubt, David Miller is one of the most feared batsmen in world cricket in the limited-overs format. His hard-hitting skills make him indispensable to the South African side, which is already teeming with many top-notch batsmen like Hashim Amla and AB de Villiers.
This was a series in which Australia was outplayed thoroughly by a rampaging South African team. Having suffered massive defeats in the first two ODIs in the five-match series, the Aussies needed to win the third match to stay afloat. Thanks to centuries from David Warner and Steven Smith, the Kangaroos posted a humongous total of 371/6 and seemed hot favourites to win the contest.
But all hopes of an Australian victory died a gory death when Miller went on the rampage. Batting very much in a manner reminiscent of the destructive Lance Klusener, Miller reached the century mark at a galloping pace. His unbeaten 118 off just 79 deliveries put the centuries of Warner and Smith in the shade and steered the Proteas to the second highest run chase in ODI history.
#3 David Warner 173 (136) vs South Africa, Cape Town (Strike Rate – 127)
For the followers of modern day cricket, David Warner's name needs no introduction. His aggressive but amazingly consistent batting has made him a treasured member of the current Aussie squad in all formats. Warner has had a glorious run this year notching up 7 ODI centuries, standing next only to the legendary Sachin Tendulkar in terms of the highest no. of ODI centuries scored in a year.
Australia's tour of South Africa in 2016 will remain an unforgettable nightmare for the Kangaroo fans for many years to come. The Kangaroos lost the first four matches comprehensively and needed to chase a target of 328 in the fifth one to prevent the ignominy of a 0-5 whitewash. With none of the remaining batsmen offering him substantial support, Warner waged a lone battle and scored 173 off just 127 balls thus polishing off more than half of the target.
However, the Aussies eventually fell well short of the target and succumbed to a 0-5 defeat in the series. Warner's tour de force will surely go down as one of the greatest ODI knocks in losing cause in the modern era.
#4 Quinton de Kock,138* (96) vs England, Bloemfontein (Strike Rate – 143)
Considering Quinton de Kock's adeptness with the gloves behind the wicket and destructiveness with the willow, it is impossible to resist comparisons with Adam Gilchrist, the Australian titan who redefined the role of the wicketkeeper in cricket. The diminutive southpaw is arguably the best wicketkeeper batsman in today's cricket and one of the most vital cogs in the South African lineup.
In the first ODI of the England vs South Africa series, England piled up a massive total of 399 with Jos Buttler cracking a magnificent 105. Undaunted by the enormity of the target, de Kock went all guns blazing at the English pace attack in a Gilchrist-esque manner, smashing six sixes and ensured that the Proteas were in the contest for the greater part of the match. Eventually, England won by a fair margin of runs and de Kock was stranded on 138 which he scored off just 96 balls.
De Kock's blitzkrieg could not stave off the defeat for the Proteas in this high-scoring encounter but it was enough to overshadow Buttler's splendid century and earn him the ‘Man of the Match’ honour.
#5 Alex Hales, 171(122) vs Pakistan, Trent Bridge (Strike Rate – 140)
In the last decade, England's think-tank had been desperately trying to unearth an attacking limited overs opener who can score runs at a lightning pace. In the form of Alex Hales, they seem to have found the answer.
With his aggressive style of batting, Hales adds the much-needed firepower at the top of England's batting order, something that England lacked after Marcus Trescothick's retirement. With a string of impressive performances already under his belt, Hales is likely to be a permanent fixture in limited overs cricket for at least the foreseeable future.
Hales smashed a stupendous 171 off 122 deliveries at a staggering strike rate of 140 this year against Pakistan. That more than a hundred runs came in boundaries (22 fours and four sixes) is a testament to the ease with which Hales can crack boundaries. With Hales acting as wrecker-in-chief, the hapless Pakistani bowling attack was blown to smithereens.
In the process, he also scripted history by shattering the record for the highest individual score in ODIs for England and England reached an incredible 444/3 surpassing the previous highest ODI total in an innings. Just for the record, England won by a humongous margin of 169 runs.