Virat Kohli was the last man to score an unbeaten 100 off 83 balls against Bangladesh in the first match of ICC World Cup 2011 at Dhaka © Getty Images
Virat Kohli was the last man to score an unbeaten 100 off 83 balls against Bangladesh in the first match of ICC World Cup 2011 at Dhaka © Getty Images

Many players will be playing in a World Cup for the first time in their career in ICC World Cup 2015. Before they make some great performances in the World Cup debut, Bharath Seervi lists the players who had scored centuries on their World Cup debut in the previous editions.

ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 is on its way. For many players this would be their first chance of appearing in World Cup. Some of them will be even making their One-Day International (ODI) debuts in the tournament. At the end every player would like to begin their World Cup career with a good performance and maintain their position in the team for the entire tournament and in future.

There have been a set of batsmen who got off to their World Cup career with a century and influenced the team’s performances. Virat Kohli was the last to do so: scored an unbeaten 100 off 83 balls against Bangladesh in the first match of ICC World Cup 2011 at Dhaka.  Let us have a look at players who have done the same in previous World Cups.

Century in first World Cup innings

Batsman Runs Balls Fours Sixes For Against Venue Date
Gary Kirsten 188* 159 13 4 South Africa UAE Rawalpindi 16-Feb-96
Craig Wishart 172* 151 18 3 Zimbabwe Namibia Harare 10-Feb-03
Glenn Turner 171* 201 16 2 New Zealand East Africa Edgbaston 07-Jun-75
Andrew Symonds 143* 125 18 2 Australia Pakistan New Wanderers 11-Feb-03
Scott Styris 141 125 3 6 New Zealand Sri Lanka Bloemfontein 10-Feb-03
Dennis Amiss 137 147 18 0 England India Lord’s 07-Jun-75
Andy Flower 115* 152 8 1 Zimbabwe Sri Lanka New Plymouth 23-Feb-92
Jeremy Bray 115* 137 10 2 Ireland Zimbabwe Kingston 15-Mar-07
Trevor Chappell 110 131 11 0 Australia India Trent Bridge 13-Jun-83
Geoff Marsh 110 141 7 1 Australia India Chepauk 09-Oct-87
Allan Lamb 102 105 12 2 England New Zealand The Oval 09-Jun-83
Nathan Astle 101 132 8 2 New Zealand England Motera 14-Feb-96
Virat Kohli 100* 83 8 2 India Bangladesh Dhaka 19-Feb-11

In the first World Cup in 1975, there were two occasions on the first day itself. On June 7, 1975 the first four World Cup matches were played: England played India at Lord’s, and New Zealand took on East Africa at Edgbaston. Dennis Amiss scored 137 and Glenn Turner an unbeaten 171 off 201 balls. It was their first World Cup matches, and Turner piled up many records: most balls in an ODI innings and highest ODI score, and more.

Allan Lamb had a similar start in 1983 scoring 102 against New Zealand at The Oval. Trevor Chappell did the same in his first World Cup match by accumulating 110 against India at Trent Bridge in the same edition.

In 1987, Geoff Marsh scored a fine 110 in his first World Cup appearance. In 1992, Andy Flower who was scored 115 not out against Sri Lanka (it was also his ODI debut). Gary Kirsten scored an unbeaten 188 against UAE in his first World Cup appearance; it is still the highest individual score in the World Cup.

In 2003 there were three players scoring a century when they batted for the first time in World Cups: Scott Styris (141 against Sri Lanka), Craig Wishart (172 not out against Namibia) and Andrew Symonds (143 not out against Pakistan). In 2007, when Ireland were appearing for the first time in World Cups their opener Jeremy Bray scored 115 not out against Zimbabwe.

So far 13 batsmen have this feat to their name. With the avalanche of runs in the past few years, we may see more in the 2015 edition of the tournament.

A few players missed this feat by a small margin. Three batsmen got out in nineties in their first World Cup innings: Martin Crowe, Robin Smith and Sourav Ganguly.

Nervous nineties in the first World Cup inning

Batsman Runs Balls Fours Sixes For Against Venue Date
Martin Crowe 97 118 8 0 New Zealand England The Oval 09-Jun-83
Sourav Ganguly 97 142 11 1 India South Africa Hove 15-May-99
Robin Smith 91 108 8 2 England India WACA 22-Feb-92

Let us also list the players who ended their World Cup career with a century.

Centuries in last World Cup inning

Batsman Runs Balls Fours Sixes For Against Venue Date
Imran Nazir 160 121 14 8 Pakistan Zimbabwe Kingston 21-Mar-07
Adam Gilchrist 149 104 13 8 Australia Sri Lanka Bridgetown 28-Apr-07
Klaas-Jan van Noortwijk 134* 129 11 3 Netherlands Namibia Bloemfontein 03-Mar-03
Brad Hodge 123 89 8 7 Australia Netherlands Basseterre 18-Mar-07
Feiko Kloppenburg 121 142 6 4 Netherlands Namibia Bloemfontein 03-Mar-03
Ryan ten Doeschante 106 108 13 1 Netherlands Ireland Kolkata 18-Mar-11
Ricky Ponting 104 118 7 1 Australia India Ahmedabad 24-Mar-11
David Boon 100 147 8 0 Australia West Indies Melbourne 18-Mar-92

Eight batsmen scored centuries in World Cups and never appeared again after that knock. Three of them were from Netherlands who do not have the ODI status at present. The most famous of these is definitely the knock by Adam Gilchrist in the final of ICC World Cup 2007 where he smashed 149 off just 104 balls.

Another Australian, David Boon, scored a hundred century in his last World Cup match in 1992. In the last World Cup in India, Ricky Ponting’s century in the quarter-final could not bring victory to his team. Brad Hodge is also likely to remain in the list, as is Imran Nazir, who is set to miss two World Cups on the trot.

Crowe, like his first World Cup innings, was out for another nervous ninety score of 91 in his last World Cup inning in the 1992 semi-final against Pakistan. Gautam Gambhir scored 97 in the finals of 2011 World Cup and he has not been selected in the squad of this World Cup. If he does not appear in a World Cup match in future, he will have his name registered in the list of getting out in 90s in last World Cup innings like Martin.

There are a few batsmen who are likely to end their ODI careers after this World Cup and not be a part of World Cup. Tillakaratne Dilshan, Kumar Sangakkara, Mahela Jayawardene, Shahid Afridi, Misbah-ul-Haq, Michael Clarke are a few examples. Let us wait and watch how they end their World Cup career!

(Bharath Seervi is a cricket statistician who is obsessed with digging numbers, facts and records related to the game. An active member of Society of Cricket Statisticians of India, he blogs at www.cricketseervistats.blogspot.com. He can be followed on Twitter at www.twitter.com/SeerviBharath and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/SeerviCricket)