Pakistan in England 2016 September 1, 2016

From 334 to 444: the rise of the highest ODI total

In every decade since the 1970s, teams have set new records for ODI totals, breaching the 300-run and then the 400-run mark.
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England's brutal display at Trent Bridge earned them the highest ever ODI total. In the first ODI, staged after the 1971 Melbourne Test was washed out, Australia chased down 191 in 34.6 eight-ball overs and there was a slow, steady progression of scores rising into the 200s until, in 1975, during the 19th ODI, England broke through the 300 barrier. ESPNcricinfo traces the rise of the highest ODI total.

Play 01:22
The journey from 334 to 444 in 41 years

England 334 for 4 (60 overs) v India, Lord's, 1975

The first day of the first World Cup - men's that is, the women were two years ahead of things. Dennis Amiss made 137 and England's innings was rounded off by Chris Old's Buttler-esque 30-ball 51. The final total of 334 was a big leap on the previous best of 266. Controversy then ensued as Sunil Gavaskar batted through India's 60 overs for 36 off 174 balls. "Dejected Indians were pathetically pleading with him to die fighting," reported the Cricketer. "Their flags hung limp in their hands. It was a perverse moment of self-inflicted shame."

Pakistan 338 for 5 (60 overs) v Sri Lanka, Swansea, 1983

Two World Cups later, the record was broken as Pakistan enjoyed the Welsh air against a Sri Lanka side still young in their full international days. After Mohsin Khan and Zaheer Abbas - with 82 apiece - had laid the platform, the acceleration came from Javed Miandad (72 off 52) and Imran Khan (56 off 33) with what Wisden termed a "violent assault". Sri Lanka were never in touch, but weren't embarrassed as they made 288. Arjuna Ranatunga was part of the middle order: his, and Sri Lanka's, time would come.

West Indies 360 for 4 (50 overs) v Sri Lanka, Karachi, 1987

What would Viv Richards have done in the current era? It doesn't really matter, because he was immense when he did play. He had already produced an innings, his unbeaten 189 against England, at Old Trafford in 1984, that remains one of the greatest in ODI history but, in terms of runs, nearly surpassed it in this match as his 181 off 125 balls carried West Indies to dizzy heights. Richards' innings began on a hat-trick ball; by the time he departed he had the highest score in a World Cup at the time. His last 81 runs came from 33 balls.

England 363 for 7 (55 overs) v Pakistan, Trent Bridge, 1992

A quirk of fate means that the record England now hold is a carbon copy of how they held it 24 years ago. Before the 2016 vintage, this was their finest one-day side having reached the World Cup final a few months previously only to be toppled by Imran Khan's team. It was little consolation, but back on home soil they comfortably beat Pakistan in the one-day series. In this contest runs came throughout the order. Of the top six, only Allan Lamb did not contribute significantly. Robin Smith led the way with 77 off 72 balls but the real flourish was left for Graeme Hick who clubbed 63 off 42 deliveries, his fifty coming off 34. Pakistan's frontline attack was formidable - Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis, Aaqib Javed and Mushtaq Ahmed - but the fifth-bowler combination went for 106 in 11 overs.

Sri Lanka 398 for 5 (50 overs) v Kenya, Kandy, 1996

The record wasn't edged past, it was smashed, and not surprisingly by the Sri Lankans who were in the course of reinventing the one-day game. Aravinda de Silva got a huge personal score of 145 as it quickly became clear there would be no repeat of Kenya's historic victory over West Indies a week earlier. Ranatunga added the finishing touches with a 29-ball fifty although Kenya's left-arm spinner Asif Karim ended with the highly respectable 1 for 50 in his 10 overs. 400 was close, who would be the first there?

Australia 434 for 4 (50 overs) v South Africa, Johannesburg, 2006

It would take another 10 years for the milestone to be crossed, and it came on the most remarkable of days at the Wanderers. Ricky Ponting slayed 164 off 105 balls, on the ground where he had dispatched India during the 2003 World Cup final, and Michael Hussey scored 81 off 51, as Australia marmalised South Africa's attack on the Highveld. Ponting's hundred came from 71 balls and the last 20 overs of the innings brought 225 runs early in the T20 era. Astonishingly, though, a few hours later the record-books were being re-written again…

Herschelle Gibbs' astounding 175 set up one of ODI cricket's most memorable matches and wiped out a record total that was set mere hours earlier © Getty Images

South Africa 438 for 9 (49.5 overs) v Australia, Johannesburg, 2006

"They are 15 short, lads," is the apocryphal line attributed to Jacques Kallis as the shell-shocked South Africans made there way into the dressing room at the interval. Yet the miracle happened. Herschelle Gibbs responded to Ponting's epic with 175 off 111 balls and Graeme Smith plundered 90 off 55. Such was the early onslaught that South Africa were on track from a long way out, it was a question of the wickets they were shipping. In the end it came down to the final over from Brett Lee and with two needed Andrew Hall picked out mid-on. But Makhaya Ntini managed to squeeze a single, levelling the score amid delirious scenes in the crowd, before Mark Boucher thumped the winning boundary.

Sri Lanka 443 for 9 (50 overs) v Netherlands, Amstelveen, 2006

There must have been something in the water during 2006 because South Africa's record lasted barely three months, although this record wasn't exactly in a fair contest as Sri Lanka overwhelmed Netherlands. Neither were there any TV cameras present to record the moment. Sanath Jayasuriya butchered 157 off 104 balls and Tillakaratne Dilshan 117 off 78. The only danger that could stop Sri Lanka from setting a record was being bowled out. They were still 31 short when the eighth wicket fell, but Dilshan was still there.

Need a last-ball boundary for a record total? Call Jos Buttler © Getty Images

England 444 for 3 (50 overs) v Pakistan, Trent Bridge, 2016

Another 10-year gap, another record. After Alex Hales' England-record 171, the side appeared to be cantering towards a record total when the 48th over - bowled by Wahab Riaz - went for 24. But Mohammad Amir and Hasan Ali belatedly made life tougher . After Jos Buttler swung and missed twice at Hasan, four runs were still needed off the last ball. If there's a man who can find the boundary when needed it's Buttler and he duly drilled the final delivery over the off side. So, where next? As Australia went ballistic in their chase against Sri Lanka in Dambulla - 68 after five overs, 100 in 8.1 - the thought of 500 did not seem quite so outlandish.

Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • gimme-a-greentop on September 4, 2016, 11:43 GMT

    Out of all the totals of 400 and over (18), only twice has the side batting second reached that mark (SA vs Aus, SL vs Ind). Interestingly given their reputation for conservative cricket, SA has the most 400-plus totals with 6, followed by India (5).

  • akhilesh0109 on September 4, 2016, 10:02 GMT

    @g.shah.g actually pakistan were already reigning world champions when they conceded the highest odi score..

  • RahatRafidChowdhury on September 3, 2016, 17:21 GMT

    In midern days 400+ team score in one day cricket is not safe due to batsman's high strike rate

  • g.shah.g on September 3, 2016, 7:39 GMT

    So Pakistan went on to win the world cup last time they were thrashed by a record breaking score. Let's keep our fingers crossed and have faith in Azhar Ali.

  • sportz_freakz1 on September 2, 2016, 13:53 GMT

    Its interesting how many of these slogfests petered out to a boring game (wanderers notwithstanding). That being said, while the 434 v 438 was interesting and somewhat historical, I personally believe that the best ODI ever was 1999 Edgbaston WC SF. The fact that a WC final was at stake, the previous game with Waugh's amazing century, the various storylines at play etc. I've watched replays of that last over a million times and it still gives me the chills. Greatest ODI ever and in the conversation for top cricket matches etc.

  • InsideHedge on September 2, 2016, 13:24 GMT

    @DougQuaidHauser : The same two sides contested a better game at Edgbaston in the 1999 WC but I guess "the best" is a subjective opinion.

  • Bigapricotpoodle on September 2, 2016, 12:15 GMT

    Gnasher, perhaps you could clarify something. The first ODI was, "officially", the match in Melbourne in 1971, a 40-overs per side game, while the two earliest record scores in your article occured in 60-overs per side games. There was, however, a one-day match between two full international (i.e Test) sides as long ago as 4 March 1967. This took place at the Wanderers Johannesburg, at the end of Australia's 5-Test tour and it was, moreover, of 50-overs per side format. Australia batted first, making 323/8. South Africa in reply made 327/7, winning with 8 balls to spare, almost inevitably guided home by Graeme Pollock, who made 132 not out. One wonders why this match is not acknowledged as the first ODI. Pollock, of course, who ought to be credited with the first-ever ODI hundred, also made the first "List A" double-hundred, 222 not out, long before the days of fielding restrictions.

  • DougQuaidHauser on September 2, 2016, 9:08 GMT

    Still remember watching the Wanderers epic on TV in 2006 here in the UK, THE best game of cricket ever seen.

  • ffffffffff on September 2, 2016, 8:04 GMT

    @Balareji, because India has never held the title of highest scores in ODI history so there is no need to mention them in this article. In all those instances another team had scored a higher total at some point previously. This article is about the matches which held the record highest ODI score at some point.

  • Balareji on September 2, 2016, 7:28 GMT

    None of India's high scores are mentioned here - 418/5 against WI at Indore on 8 December 2011; 404/5 against Sri Lanka at Kolkata on 13 November 2014; 401/3 against South Africa at Gwalior on 24 February 2010 and 392/4 against New Zealand at Christchurch on 8 March 2009 to name a few. Even if we are talking just about the highest scores in a World Cup, India notched up 373/6 against Sri Lanka at Taunton on 26 May 1999 as well as 413/5 against Bermuda at Port of Spain on 19 March 2007.

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