Contrary to popular perception, the recently concluded Afro-Asia Cup was hardly a dull affair. Though the Asia XI completed a series whitewash, the Africans put on a great show, and kept the few that tuned in captivated. The three-match series also turned out to be a delightful one for the stats-inclined, with a plethora of records being broken.
Shaun Pollock's first ODI century in the first game at Bangalore caused a few changes in the record-books. Pollock, playing in his 285th match, usurped team-mate Mark Boucher's record for the highest number of matches taken to score a first century in ODIs. In terms of number of innings, Pollock scored it in his 190th, 34 more than Steve Waugh's 166, which was the earlier record.
Pollock's 130 became the highest score by No. 7 batsman, going past Mohammad Kaif's 111 not out against Zimbabwe in Colombo in 2002. However, Mahendra Singh Dhoni overhauled it just four days later, with his unbeaten 139 in the third ODI at Chennai.
Dhoni was part of another record - the highest partnership for the sixth wicket in ODIs. Dhoni and Mahela Jayawardene combined to add 219, beating the previous record of 165 held jointly by Australia's Brad Haddin and Michael Hussey against West Indies at Kuala Lumpur in 2006 and Brendon McCullum and Craig McMillan of New Zealand against Australia at Hamilton earlier this year.
The pair also surpassed the record for the highest partnership for any wicket at the MA Chidambaram stadium, going past the 168 runs that Chris Harris and Lee Germon added for the fifth wicket at the 1996 World Cup quarter-final against Australia.
During the series, the batsmen coming down the order cashed in. In the first ODI at Bangalore, the last five wickets for the Africa XI accounted for 252 runs after the Africans were in trouble at 31 for 5. In the third ODI at Chennai, Asia XI were in a spot of bother, but the record-breaking partnership between Dhoni and Jayawardene helped the last five score 259. Here is the list of highest runs amassed by the bottom five wickets in ODIs:
Asia XI and Africa XI scored 985 and 907 runs respectively in the three matches of the series. Both teams surpassed the highest aggregate runs scored by a team in a single series in which they played exactly three matches. Here's the table with the list of highest aggregates for teams which played three matches in a series:
The run-riot took its toll, with Africa's Elton Chigumbura conceding 84 runs from his 10 overs in the second ODI at Chennai, the second-highest in a ten-over spell in India. The record is held by Chris Drum of New Zealand, who gave way 85 runs against India at Hyderabad. Chigumbura was at the receiving end during the entire tournament - his 29 overs leaked 217. Mohammad Asif went for 82 off 9.5 overs - his most expensive - in the second ODI and conceded a total of 201 runs in the series.
In the second ODI at Chennai, Albie and Morne Morkel opened the bowling for Africa XI. This is a rare instance when brothers shared the new ball in an ODI. The Suji brothers - Martin and Tony - have opened the bowling for Kenya. Incidentally, Morne - the younger of the Morkel brothers - made his ODI debut in the first match of the series, thus becoming the second player after Dale Steyn to make his ODI debut representing a team other than his country.