As part of Wisden’s 1990s in Review series, Sankalp Srivastava looks at the best ODI innings of the Nineties, chosen by our panel to be in the top five.
No.2: Saeed Anwar 194 (146)
Pakistan v India, Chennai
1997 Independence Cup
A virtual tournament semi-final, against India, in Chennai – it can’t get much tougher for a Pakistan batsman. But Saeed Anwar was different gravy. As Ramiz Raja opted to bat first in a do-or-die Independence Cup encounter, out walked Anwar with a 17-year-old Shahid Afridi and though the latter, facing Pakistan’s fiercest rivals for the first time, returned cheaply, his senior partner had far bigger things lined up.
Venkatesh Prasad was cut hard through the point region. Anil Kumble was welcomed with a drive down the ground. Sunil Joshi was treated with great disdain, sent for 36 runs in four overs.
Remarkably, Anwar needed a runner during his innings as he felt unwell, and yet the strokes continued to be unleashed. He completed his century in the 27th over and crossed Viv Richards’s 189 not out, then the highest individual ODI score, in the 47th over with a sweep behind square on the leg side for four. Another boundary followed but Sachin Tendulkar had him caught six short of a double hundred as Anwar walked off to a standing ovation from the Chepauk crowd. Pakistan’s eventual total of 327 was 35 runs too much for India.
No.3: Aravinda de Silva 107*(124)
Sri Lanka v Australia, Lahore
1996 World Cup final
What propels this Aravinda de Silva knock to No.3 is the context: played in a World Cup final, with de Silva walking in at 23-2, right after Sri Lanka had lost both of their flashy openers as early inside six overs. That he played this great knock after picking up three important wickets in the first innings adds to the excellence.
The first ball that de Silva faced was proof enough that he meant business: an out-swinging Damien Fleming delivery was knocked back straight down the ground. Not long after, the same bowler’s slower ball was delightfully sent through mid-wicket to confirm something special was on the cards.
Mark Taylor, the Australia captain, used seven different bowlers on the night but none could stop the legendary Sri Lankan batsman, who gave arguably the greatest all-round World Cup final performance of all time. He completed his century in the 46th over with a deft leg glance towards fine leg for four as Sri Lanka chased down Australia’s 241 to script one of the most improbable World Cup title wins.
No.4: Steve Waugh 120*(110)
Australia v South Africa, Leeds
1999 World Cup Super Six match
Steve Waugh not only saved the match but the World Cup for Australia. They went into the Super Six encounter against South Africa knowing that only a win would see them through to the semi-finals and it was their captain who delivered. Chasing 272, Waugh walked in after Mark Waugh, Adam Gilchrist and Damien Martyn had all taken the long walk back to the hut with just 48 on the board.
Cautiously at first – he was six off 21 at one stage – Waugh started the onslaught around the 20-over mark and raced to his half-century in just 47 balls. The defining moment came when he was on 56 – he flicked a Lance Klusener delivery down Herschelle Gibbs’s throat at mid-wicket but the South Africa opener, in a hurry to celebrate, famously dropped the ball.
It took Waugh 91 deliveries to complete his hundred and with help from Ricky Ponting (69), Michael Bevan (27) and Tom Moody (15), he led Australia to a famous win, continuing an unbeaten World Cup run that would only be halted 12 years later.
No.5: Inzamam-ul-Haq 60 (37)
Pakistan v New Zealand, Auckland
1992 World Cup semifinal
A 22-year-old Inzamam-ul-Haq announced himself, and in some style, with this knock against New Zealand in the 1992 World Cup semi-final. Pakistan were aiming to make their first-ever World Cup final but chasing a tricky 263, they were 123 away from the target with six wickets in hand when Inzamam took guard in the 35th over.
With no time to settle in, Inzamam set about his job quickly, dispatching Gavin Larsen for four and just about tonking Chris Harris over long-on for six – his only maximum of the innings. He hit two boundaries off Dipak Patel’s final over before subjecting Danny Morrison to similar treatment. By the time Inzamam was run out by Harris in the 45th over, Pakistan were just 36 short of the target, which they eventually chased with an over to spare.