Year in review: Cricket World's Top 5 batting displays of 2019
Runs are runs, but there are always extra marks for the opposition and the conditions in which they are scored. Being easy on the eye only helps.
Opposition: South Africa
Venue: The Rose Bowl, Southampton
Strike rate: 84.72
It might come as a surprise to many that out of Rohit Sharma's five tons in the 2019 World Cup, the one which was compiled the slowest has been chosen. In fact, the 144-ball 122-run knock is Rohit Sharma's slowest-ever 100 in ODI cricket. The reason that it makes it to Cricket World's top 5 batting displays of 2019 is that those were quality runs.
India were set a target of just 228 but the way South Africa's new-ball bowlers Kagiso Rabada Chris Morris ran in on a juicy Southampton pitch, it sure created some interest in the match. However, Sharma bridled his instincts, played close to the body and left a lot of deliveries to remain unbeaten and see India home.
Opposition: New Zealand
Venue: Emirates Old Trafford, Manchester
Strike rate: 123.17
Despite both openers Martin Guptill and Colin Munro getting dismissed for golden ducks, New Zealand set West Indies a target of 291 in the 29th match of the 2019 World Cup. At 164-7, in the 27th over, the match looked all but over.
However, all-rounder Carlos Brathwaite had other plans. He strung together partnerships with the lower order and guided the Windies to a place where it was their match to lose. Quite contrary to the way he had swatted Ben Stokes for four back-to-back sixes in the 2016 World Cup final, his hoick was intercepted by Trent Boult right at the boundary line and West Indies lost the match. However, Brathwaite's effort will go down as one of the most impressive ODI knocks in a losing cause.
Venue: Emirates Old Trafford, Manchester
Strike rate: 66.14
On comeback trail, Steve Smith plundered 144, 142 and 92 runs in his first three innings of Ashes 2019. In an unfortunate turn of events, he was hit on the head by a Jofra Archer snorter and had to miss the third Test to recover from delayed concussion.
There was all the talk in the media about Smith being shaken up from the bouncer and that he would find it tough to get going again. Tough it was, not for Smith, but the opposition as the former Australian skipper piled up 211 runs on return to help Australia win the Test by 185 runs and seal the fate of the Ashes.
Venue: Adelaide Oval
Strike rate: 80.14
David Warner had a terrible Ashes 2019 in which he could only manage 95 runs at an average of 9.50. Although he had a brilliant T20I series leading up to the Test matches, it was with the red-ball and in white clothing that the left-hander had to prove himself all over again.
Warner did that in style with a 154-run hand in the first Test, but it was in Adelaide that he truly made a statement. Batting first on a flat Adelaide Oval pitch, Warner kept on breaching one milestone after another, ending with unbeaten 335 to become the highest top scorer in Australian history, getting past Don Bradman and Mark Taylor.
It was a knock that showed exactly what had made Warner click in Test matches. When on song, the left-hander has the ability to run away with the match and this is what was on display en route to his triple ton.
Venue: Headingley, Leeds
Strike rate: 61.64
What does one say about Ben Stokes' magical Headingley innings that has already not been said or written. There have have been multiple magazine columns and TV featurettes on how Stokes dug out England from an almost impossible situation with his unbeaten 135 to help them win the Test match by one wicket and keep the Ashes alive.
The 359-run English chase was their highest ever successful chase - all thanks to Superman Ben Stokes, who after helping the team to a World Cup title victory, came to the team's rescue again and added 76 runs with number 11 batsman Jack Leach, making it the second-highest 10th wicket partnership in successful 4th innings run chases. A knock to be remembered for eternity.
©Cricket World 2019