Indian captain Virat Kohli scored a mind-boggling 558 runs (including match-winning centuries) in the recently concluded six-match ODI series against South Africa and was instrumental in his team’s 5-1 thrashing of the Proteas in their own backyard. Out of the total 2522 runs scored in the series by batsmen on either side, Kohli’s tally aggregated to 22% of the total runs – a feat made all the more special by the fact that Kohli had not scored a single hundred in the Rainbow nation prior to this series. Here, we compile a list of five players with most runs in a bilateral ODI series.
Rightly so, Kohli was named as the Player of the Series and also won three Man of the Match awards in the six-game sojourn. In the process, the Royal Challengers Bangalore-batsman also became the first ever player in the history of 50-overs cricket to score more than 500 runs in a bilateral series. During the series, Kohli went past Rohit Sharma’s 491 runs (vs Australia in 2013) which was the previous best tally recorded by any player in a bilateral ODI series.
The great Sachin Tendulkar is the only other Indian to have scored more than 500 runs in an ODI tournament – 673 runs in the 2003 World Cup in South Africa and 523 runs during the 1996 World Cup at home.
5 cricketers with most runs in a bilateral ODI series:
1. Virat Kohli
558 runs in 6 matches – South Africa vs India ODI Series, 2018
There is hardly any adjective left that hasn’t already been used to describe Virat Kohli’s run-making prowess. A look at his numbers in the ODI series against South Africa and you will know why. The Indian skipper amassed 558 runs during the course of his six innings and is now the first ever player to have scored more than 500 runs in a bilateral ODI series; the player with most runs in a bilateral ODI series; and the only visiting batsman after Kevin Pietersen to record three ODI hundreds in the Proteas’ backyard.
Continuing from his exploits in the Test series, the modern maestro was in sublime touch in the 50-overs leg of this tour and dismantled a hapless South African bowling attack. The result – 558 runs at an average of 186 and strike rate of 99, 3 hundreds and only 3 dismissals in 6 innings.
2. Rohit Sharma
491 runs in 6 matches – India vs Australia ODI Series, 2013
Before Virat Kohli’s recent heroics against South Africa, Rohit Sharma was the man who held the record for most runs in a bilateral ODI series. The Indian ODI vice-captain was at his imperious best against Australia in the seven-match series at home towards the end of 2013 and made life hell for every Aussie bowler.
During the course of his six outings to the middle in the series, Rohit ended up with 491 runs – including a fifty, a hundred and a double hundred in the series finale at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bangalore. In a series where the curators rolled out one batting beauty after the other, Rohit made full use of his opening slot and made his way to an enviable tally of runs in the end.
3. George Bailey
478 runs in 6 matches – India vs Australia ODI Series, 2013
Another entrant on this list from the same series where Rohit Sharma compiled 491 runs. George Bailey recorded 478 runs on this tour and became the Australian player with most runs in a bilateral ODI series. In the absence of regular skipper Michael Clarke, George Bailey led his side from the front and was a thorn in the flesh of Indian captain MS Dhoni throughout the series.
Bailey played a quick-fire knock of 156 runs in just 114 deliveries in Nagpur and also had scores of 85, 92*, 43 and 98 in the series. What makes this string of scores all the more special is the fact that almost all of Bailey’s runs were scored in the middle-overs as he batted at Number 4 for Australia.
4. Hamilton Masakadza
467 runs in 5 matches – Zimbabwe vs Kenya ODI Series, 2009
Zimbabwean veteran Hamilton Masakadza is one batsman who has the ability to make batting look ridiculously easy on his day but has been marred by inconsistency and poor shot-making throughout his 17-year old career. The five-match ODI series in 2009 against African neighbours Kenya was one such occasion where the right-handed opener was in silken touch and put the visitors’ bowlers to the sword.
Masakadza amassed 467 runs in the series, at an average of 116 and a strike rate of almost 97. He scored a fifty and two centuries against a hapless Kenyan bowling line-up who simply had no clue as to how to deal with the power-hitting ability of the former Zimbabwe captain. Between 2009 and 2013, Masakadza was the man who held the record for most runs in a bilateral ODI series before Rohit Sharma went past him in late 2013 against Australia.
5. Chris Gayle
455 runs in 7 matches – India vs West Indies ODI Series, 2002
Despite his long list of issues with the West Indies Cricket Board and other off-field problems, Chris Gayle is one of the finest batsmen to have emerged out of the Caribbean islands and his record in all formats of the game is testament to this fact. More so, Gayle has been a champion performer in limited-overs cricket for years now and his tally of over 9,000 ODI runs from 275 matches is proof of that.
Talking about bilateral ODI series, one particular incident of Gayle wreaking his havoc was when the West Indies toured India in 2002 and the two teams faced each other in a seven-match series. After failing in the series opener, the maverick left-hander came into his own in the next four games as he smashed his way to three centuries and a half-century – recording a mammoth 455 runs at a healthy average of 65.