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Michael Bevan 185*: What could have been ODI cricket’s greatest innings ever

by Wisden Staff 3 minute read

Revisiting when Michael Bevan slammed a breathtaking 185* in a game between Asia XI and the Rest of the World in 2000, but his team lost the high-scoring game by one run.

The “finisher” label thrust upon Michael Bevan can appear questionable by modern standards where players in said category wield the willow at strike-rates that push the extent of mathematical possibilities. Bevan, on the other hand, ended his ODI career with a strike-rate of 74.16, a number scoffed at even for top-order batsmen these days.

Yet, in the midst of his 46 half-centuries and six hundreds, almost all coming through nurdling and picking gaps, rather than wild slogs and ambitious scoops, is an unaccounted hundred that could easily pass off as one of the all-time great ODI knocks, if only the game had official international status.

The National Stadium in Bangabandhu in 2000 witnessed Bevan at his very best as the Asia XI faced stiff resistance from the Rest of the World XI in this unofficial one-dayer.

Chasing 320 after half-centuries in the Asia XI innings from Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly, the Rest of the World stumbled to 196-7 as a bowling attack of Wasim Akram, Chaminda Vaas, Abdul Razzaq, Anil Kumble and Muttiah Muralitharan tormented the non-Asian side.

Michael Bevan was stuck with Andy Caddick with his team requiring 124 runs off the last 13 overs, a required run rate of nearly 10 an over with only the tail to come. Bevan unleashed shots rarely seen from his usually cultured blade, the full range  speaking of a dynamic player, truly deserving of the “finisher” tag.

A 119-run partnership ensued as Bevan – accompanied by a stoic Caddick, who made just 23 of those runs – nearly took the Rest of the World over the line. In the final over bowled by Abdul Razzaq, the team needed 20 runs to win. Bevan hit three consecutive fours off the Pakistani seamer in the over.

Caddick, who had been as good as a hero until then, had a brain fade moment as he was run out off the penultimate ball, forgetting to ground his bat even though it was over the line. The equation, that could easily have been five to win off the last ball, and four to tie, turned to six to win off the final ball.

Bevan’s full-fledged loft over mid-off would bounce before going for four as Asia XI survived a scare, winning by a solitary run. The Australian finished unbeaten on 185 off a mere 132 balls, a strike-rate of 140.15.

Bevan later called the knock his “best innings” in an interview with ESPNcricinfo:  “Pound for pound the best innings I have played is for Rest of World against Asia [Dhaka, 2000], for the kind of shots and how I hit them. That was a bit of a buzz. I remember coming out – we needed seven an over and I came in in the third or fourth over. They had lots of spinners, like Murali and Kumble. So there were lots of slog-sweeps and down-the-ground strokes.”

It indeed was among the best ever knocks in the history of one day cricket. With the match being unofficial, it wouldn’t show up in Bevan’s highest scores in ODI or List A cricket. Neither would it be able to find a place in a discussion of the greatest ODI innings ever, because, and only because, it wasn’t an official ODI.

Watch highlights from the Michael Bevan innings here:

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