ESPNcricinfo Awards

ESPNcricinfo Awards 2015 ODI batting nominees: tons of AB, and two Eden Park classics

Many ODI batting records were shattered in 2015, mostly in the southern hemisphere

Shashank Kishore
Shashank Kishore
08-Jan-2016
AB: fastest 50, fastest 100, fastest 150  •  Gallo Images

AB: fastest 50, fastest 100, fastest 150  •  Gallo Images

Click here for the ODI bowling shortlist
AB de Villiers
149 v West Indies
second ODI, Johannesburg

AB de Villiers strode out with the purpose of a man who was itching to bat. That he had to wait for 38.3 overs on a typical Wanderers flat track meant a platform was set for him to lay into an insipid West Indies attack. Blast he did, in a manner that released all his pent-up energy and had statisticians in a daze. De Villiers took advantage of the Highveld's thin air, the short boundaries and a billiards top-like outfield to bring up his century off just 31 balls, shattering the world record. He hit 16 sixes (the record for most sixes in an innings, jointly held with Rohit Sharma), the majority of which had fans in the grass banks ducking for cover. Shahid Afridi's record 37-ball century stood for 18 years. Corey Anderson's took all of one year, two weeks and four days to be shattered. And in some style too.
Luke Ronchi
170* v Sri Lanka
fifth ODI, Dunedin

What started off as a pesky counterattack turned gargantuan on a small outfield, as Ronchi scored his maiden ODI century. He smashed 14 fours and nine sixes, and he put on a record sixth-wicket stand of 267 with Grand Elliott. Along the way, MS Dhoni's record of the highest score by a No. 7 batsman was put into the shade. New Zealand, who were 93 for 5 at one stage, came back from the dead as the match slipped away from under Sri Lanka's nose in a manner few had seen coming.
Shikhar Dhawan
137 v South Africa
World Cup, Melbourne

Dhawan had been a walking wicket through the Australian summer, during the Tests and the tri-series: swinging ball, no foot movement, bat drawn to play instinctively, slip pouching the catch. That India had comfortably beaten Pakistan in their World Cup opener somewhat took the attention away from Dhawan's rut. Did all the talk affect him? It didn't look like it, going by the manner in which he came out and treated a pace attack of Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel, Wayne Parnell and Vernon Philander with disdain. The effervescence of his innings had a telling influence on the match, one that India bossed like few in recent memory. India's innings, driven by Dhawan's brute force, was topped off by Ajinkya Rahane's enterprising 79, and the 300-plus total proved too hot to handle for South Africa.
AB de Villiers
162* v West Indies
World Cup, Sydney

The scars of Johannesburg would have been fresh in the West Indies players' minds. That they came into the match on the back of a Chris Gayle double-hundred was cause for optimism. A slow, two-paced surface and bigger boundaries would have come as a relief too. But none of it seemed to matter for de Villiers, who got going again, striking 17 fours and eight sixes in an awesome exhibition of power hitting, and scoring the fastest ODI 150 in the process. The final over, from Jason Holder, in which de Villiers struck four sixes and a four, summed up West Indies' plight. The highest team total on Australian soil, 408, was achieved quite comfortably. West Indies couldn't even score as much as de Villiers did, collapsing to defeat by the joint-worst margin in World Cups.
Kane Williamson
45* v Australia
World Cup, Auckland

New Zealand nearly made heavy weather of a chase that should have been a walk in the park. That it turned into an edge-of-the-seat thriller was courtesy Mitchell Starc. His precision yorkers scythed through New Zealand's batting line-up to leave Williamson with the unenviable task of marshaling the tail. Call it nerves of steel or ice in his veins, Williamson watched from the non-striker's end as No. 11 Trent Boult somehow kept out one ball and left the next. But New Zealand needed six more. Williamson nonchalantly hit Pat Cummins straight over his head and into the sightscreen to seal a victory and calm the heart rates of the partisan crowd.
Glenn Maxwell
102 v Sri Lanka
World Cup, Sydney

The multi-skilled Maxwell can have a mesmerising effect. More than his electric fielding, it's his enterprising and imaginative batting that has you transfixed. In Sydney, Sri Lanka were at the receiving end of one such onslaught in which he smashed the second-fastest century - off just 51 balls - in World Cup history and also the fastest by an Australian. In a game where close to 700 runs were scored, Maxwell's onslaught, which included 10 fours and four sixes, trumped Kumar Sangakkara's century in a valiant chase as the Australian juggernaut continued to roll.
Mahmudullah
128* v New Zealand
World Cup, Hamilton

For all his potential, Mahmudullah had worn the tag of being an "underachiever" for far too long. At the 2015 World Cup, though, he was a senior pro. If the century against England was instrumental in handing his side a maiden World Cup quarter-final berth, the knock against New Zealand marked his coming of age. He whipped off his helmet, made a heart sign with his hands and blew kisses to the crowd as he soaked up the applause for his hundred. It seemed to infuse self-belief in his team. Although Bangladesh lost after running the tournament favourites close, the innings was a firm indication that they were no longer outsiders in world cricket.
Martin Guptill
237* v West Indies
World Cup quarter-final, Wellington

If you had to pick a double-centurion in New Zealand's World Cup side, Brendon McCullum or Ross Taylor would have been a safe bet. But Guptill got there first, claiming several records along the way. Against West Indies, he smashed an unbeaten 237 off just 163 balls, with 24 fours and 11 sixes, the last of which landed on the roof. It was the second highest individual total in ODIs, behind Rohit Sharma's 264. Such was the savage attack towards the death that it was incredible to believe that his first 50 had taken 64 deliveries, and his century 111. He also became the first New Zealander since Chris Harris, in 1996, to make a century in a World Cup knockout match.
Grant Elliott
84* v South Africa
World Cup semi-final, Auckland

If ever there was a list of the most influential innings played by a New Zealand batsman in ODI history, this would top it. Johannesburg-born Elliott wasn't even part of New Zealand's initial World Cup squad. An injury to Jimmy Neesham paved the way for Elliott's inclusion, and he justified the faith by playing a dream knock, three days after his 36th birthday, to take New Zealand to their first World Cup final. He kept New Zealand in the hunt after his stand of 103 with Corey Anderson ended, and he made sure he stayed till the end. The moment of the night, after all the fours and sixes and the blow that won his team the contest, was Elliott extending an arm to the crestfallen Dale Steyn soon after the winning runs were hit.
Steven Smith
105 v India
World Cup semi-final, Sydney

A flawless Indian team that had bowled the opposition out in each of their seven matches leading into the semi-final, ran into their old nemeses, who had tormented them for the better part of the Australian summer leading to the blockbuster event. Without being anywhere close to his best, Smith had made three half-centuries before the semi-final. Against India, he batted with the composure and determination that are the hallmarks of his game, scoring a brilliant maiden World Cup century to lay the ground for a massive counter-attack at the death.
Jos Buttler
116* v Pakistan
fourth ODI, Dubai

Having been beaten in the Test series against Pakistan, a rejuvenated England under Eoin Morgan showed there was no hangover leading into the limited-overs matches. Playing a key role in their march towards an ODI series win was Buttler, who finished unbeaten on 116 from 52 balls, with 18 boundaries. Buttler, who had already recorded the two fastest ODI centuries for England (off 66 balls against New Zealand and 61 against Sri Lanka), showed he was as adept against pace as spin, and his onslaught helped England plunder 145 off their last 11 overs in the team's total of 355. Buttler threw the bowlers off guard with a series of scoops, reverse sweeps and bottom-handed drives, and he got to his century off just 46 balls. It was an innings that would have made AB de Villiers proud.
MS Dhoni
92* v South Africa
second ODI, Indore

Talk of Dhoni's death-hitting prowess had provoked debate over his place in the side as captain. The criticism grew following a loss in the T20 series, and in the first ODI at Kanpur, where the normally unflappable Dhoni was outfoxed by 20-year-old in Kagiso Rabada, who held his own under pressure in the final over. In Indore, Dhoni was saddled with rescuing the team from a top-order wobble. What happened next? Dhoni came, saw and conquered. His unbeaten 92 had traces of his old destructive self, particularly when he marshalled the tail to convert what looked like a below-par total into a competitive score, one that the bowlers defended with gusto on a slow surface. The manner in which South Africa caved in against spin was further indication of how special the knock was under the circumstances.
Click here for the ODI bowling shortlist

Shashank Kishore is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo