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Purple patches: Wisden’s all-time hot-streak world men’s ODI XI

Virat Kohli Babar Azam
by Abhishek Mukherjee 5 minute read

Defining form can be a challenge, especially in limited-overs cricket. For this exercise, we shall stick to the oldest and simplest parameters cricket has had – runs and wickets – over a span of 50 men’s ODIs.

The ‘hot-streak’ parameters may make this XI somewhat biased towards the modern era, as both batting and bowling strike rates have improved decade on decade. A wicket used to fall every 45 balls in the 1980s; in the 2010s, it came down to 39. Over the same period, the scoring rate went up from 4.14 to 5.01 runs per over. The method, thus, leaves out giants like Viv Richards, Sachin Tendulkar, Wasim Akram, and Waqar Younis.

The ‘purple patch’ parameters are also biased towards top-order batters, who face more balls in an ODI and therefore have greater to opportunity score more heavily. The only bona-fide death-over biffer here is, thankfully, also the wicketkeeper, which saved us some effort.

Wisden’s all-time hot-streak world ODI XI – the picks

David Warner
Hot streak: Innings 66-115, 2,829 runs at 61.50, strike rate 101, 14 hundreds

Warner had a prolific run at the top in the four years leading up to early 2020. This included an absurd phase from January 23, 2016 to January 26, 2017, when he scored nine hundreds – including six in 11 innings. He began another streak during the 2019 World Cup: this one featured four hundreds in eight innings.

Rohit Sharma
Hot streak: Innings 118-167, 2,990 runs at 66.44, strike rate 100, 12 hundreds

Rohit scored 12 hundreds and a 99 between August 2014 and December 2017, four of which were 150s – and that included two double hundreds including his world record 264. So incredible was this run that it pales even his show at the 2019 World Cup, where he got five hundreds.

Virat Kohli (c)
Hot streak: Innings 157-206, 3,497 runs at 94.51, strike rate 100, 16 hundreds

The idea of a batter averaging 95 while striking at 100 over 50 innings seems preposterous, but Kohli did precisely that during his golden phase, a three-year period from October 2015 that culminated in him scoring three consecutive hundreds.

Hashim Amla
Hot streak: Innings 13-62, 2,882 runs at 62.65, strike rate 92, 9 hundreds

Amla the ODI batter is rare;y spoken of with the reverence he deserves. He had a glittering ODI career where he peaked early, amassing nearly three thousand runs in the four years leading up to March 2013. This was a phase of brisk yet significant scores: he averaged 63 despite crossing 130 only once.

Babar Azam
Hot streak: Innings 41-90, 2,875 runs at 66.86, strike rate 94, 10 hundreds

Unlike the others, Babar’s streak is ongoing, and includes a run of four hundreds in five ODIs since last December. He is probably batting two places lower than he would have wanted to in this XI, but a strike rate of 94 – while scoring at 67 – is impossible to overlook.

AB de Villiers (wk)
Hot streak: Innings 146-195, 2,848 runs at 73.03, strike rate 119, 10 hundreds

It is well known that every de Villiers ODI hundred has come at faster than a run a ball, but in this phase, he produced two unbelievable innings even by his standards – the 44-ball 149 and the 66-ball 162 not out, both against the West Indies in early 2015.

Rashid Khan
Hot streak: Innings 3-52, 117 wickets at 13.96, 8 four-wicket hauls

Rashid’s streak spans 80 per cent of his entire 65-match career, and spilled into 2022. After two quiet matches, he had a run of 12 wickets from six ODIs. The first four-wicket haul (4-21) came in his 12th ODI. By 27 matches, he already had a 6-43 and a 7-18, that too in a span of five matches. There was no drop in form as his next seven matches yielded 21 wickets.

Mitchell Starc
Hot streak: Innings 35-84, 108 wickets at 20.33, 9 four-wicket hauls

Like Babar’s, Starc’s streak is ongoing as well. It began with the 2015 World Cup and stretched to all but the semi-final of the 2019 World Cup. He emerged as the joint-most wicket-taker and Player of the Tournament in the former, and the leading wicket-taker in the latter. In fact, five matches before his streak began, he had 4-42 and 6-43 in consecutive matches.

Mohammed Shami
Hot streak: Innings 18-67, 106 wickets at 22.90, 9 four-wicket hauls

Shami’s streak began in December 2013, with three wickets in each of three consecutive matches, followed by 4-55 and 3-55 in his next two. It ended with the 2019 World Cup, where he recorded figures of 4-40 (including a hat-trick), 4-16, and 5-69 in consecutive innings before being surprisingly left out of the semi-final.

Saqlain Mushtaq
Hot streak: Innings 27-76, 105 wickets at 17.29, 9 four-wicket hauls

Saqlain’s streak predates every other in this XI by over a decade, which demonstrates how ahead of the times he was. ODIs in the late 1990s were a period characterised by triangular tournaments, floodlit cricket, and increasingly heavy scoring; Saqlain emerged as a champion irrespective of opposition and conditions. He used cunning variations (including the doosra, which he popularised), was mesmerisingly accurate, and picked up wickets by the bucketful.

Trent Boult
Hot streak: Innings 18-67, 105 wickets at 22.54, 8 four-wicket hauls

Like Starc’s, Boult’s streak began in the 2015 World Cup, where the two finished as the joint-highest wicket-takers. Until November 2018, he bowled many a memorable spell, the most famous of which were both in 2017: 6-33 against Australia in Hamilton in February and 7-34 against West Indies in Christchurch.

Wisden’s all-time purple patches world ODI XI – the lineup

David Warner
Rohit Sharma
Virat Kohli (c)
Hashim Amla
Babar Azam
AB de Villiers (wk)
Rashid Khan
Mitchell Starc
Mohammed Shami
Saqlain Mushtaq
Trent Boult

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