Rohit Sharma (above) exults after scoring a record-breaking 264 © IANS
Rohit Sharma (above) exults after scoring a record-breaking 264 © IANS

Rohit Sharma’s mind-boggling 264 stole the show in 2014 as the Indian batsman became the first man to smash two doubles in one-day cricket. The year also saw Shahid Afridi dish out some memorable innings that helped Pakistan win. And how can we forget the man who usurped Afridi’s spot, Corey Anderson, who welcomed 2014 with an astonishing 36-ball ton. The year 2014 has witnessed numerous magical feats with the bat in One-Day Internationals (ODIs). Nishad Pai Vaidya picks 10 most memorable knocks of 2014.

1) Rohit Sharma: 264 off 173 balls vs Sri Lanka at Eden Gardens, Kolkata.

Keeping aside Rohit Sharma’s struggle in overseas Tests, one cannot deny the fact that he is a world-class one-day batsman. After all, you do not score two double centuries in ODIs with nothing. Rohit had injured himself during the tour to England and missed out on a few months of cricketing action. Drafted into the squad for the fourth ODI in November against Sri Lanka, Rohit carted 264 in a great exhibition of batting. There were a few dropped chances, but the quality of strokeplay was unmistakable. The ease with which he timed the ball was unmatched; a six carted over long on from way outside the off-stump summed up the whole effort. Needless to say, Sri Lanka were left with no chance of hitting back.

 

Corey Anderson (above) celebrates his 36-ball hundred on New Year's Day © Getty Images
Corey Anderson (above) celebrates his 36-ball hundred on New Year’s Day © Getty Images

2) Corey Anderson: 131 not out off 47 balls vs West Indies at Queenstown Events Centre, Queenstown.

It wasn’t the best start to the New Year for Shahid Afridi as he was informed on January 1 that an unknown lad from New Zealand had broken his record for the fastest century in ODIs. Corey Anderson, the burly left-handed all-rounder, shot to limelight with a blazing display against the West Indies on New Year’s Day. The game was reduced to a 21-over affair and Anderson walked into bat in the eighth over. Even as Jesse Ryder went on to score a quick ton, Anderson stole the platform with a ton off only 36 balls. He raced away to 131 off 47 balls, which included 14 sixes and six fours as New Zealand piled 283 in mere 21 overs. West Indies were not even close to achieving the target.

3) Shahid Afridi: 34 not out of 18 balls vs India at Sher-E-Bangla National Stadium, Dhaka.

This innings may not be big in terms of magnitude but its importance cannot be ignored. It was an India-Pakistan game in the Asia Cup, a tense run-chase and the famed all-rounder delivered. Pakistan wobbled in pursuit of a 246-run target. Afridi walked in at 200 for five in the 44th over and wickets kept falling at the other end. Showing unusual application, Afridi picked his spots to take boundaries. With two wickets in hand and ten to get off the last over, Saeed Ajmal was dismissed by Ravichandran Ashwin. Afridi was then given strike by Junaid Khan. With all the focus on him, Afridi swatted the next two deliveries into the stands to spark off wild celebrations in the camp.

4) James Faulkner: 69 not out off 47 balls vs England at The Gabba, Brisbane.

In 2013, James Faulkner gave a good account of his batting talent on tour to India. In Mohali, he smashed Ishant Sharma to all parts to help Australia steal victory and in Bangalore, he hit his maiden ODI ton to keep them afloat in a tough run-chase. But, when their old-rivals England arrived in Australia, they were in for an embarrassment not only in the Tests but also in the ODIs. In the second ODI at Brisbane, England   set a 301-run target for Australia, who  ` collapsed to 244 for nine in 44 overs with Faulkner waiting with Clint McKay. Faulkner then launched into the English attack and smashed them around. He also farmed the strike, allowing McKay to face only nine balls for his unbeaten two. With three balls to go, Faulkner pulled off a miracle leaving England in further misery.

Jos Buttler's 121 off just 74 balls wasn't enough for England to beat Sri Lanka © Getty Images
Jos Buttler’s 121 off just 74 balls wasn’t enough for England to beat Sri Lanka © Getty Images

5) Jos Buttler: 121 off 74 balls vs Sri Lanka at Lord’s.

Chasing 301 to win against Sri Lanka, England had lost all hope when Eoin Morgan was dismissed with the score on 111 for five in the 29th over. In walked Jos Buttler, England’s flamboyant wicketkeeper-batsman. In partnership with Ravi Bopara, he put England on course and started giving them a glimmer of hope. Even after Bopara’s dismissal, Buttler soldiered on to complete his maiden ODI ton. In the process of getting there in 61 balls, it was the fastest ton for England in ODIs. Taking the game into the last over, Buttler was out for 121 with a couple of balls left as Sri Lanka closed the contest by seven runs.

6) Prosper Utseya: 30 not out off 28 balls vs Australia at Harare Sports Club, Harare.

Again, an innings not big in magnitude but made a lasting impact. Yes, there was Elton Chigumbura at the other end, who scored a fifty, but Utseya was the man who won Zimbabwe the game and embarrassed Australia. Zimbabwe were chasing 210 for victory and were on course until the Australians hit back. The hosts then found themselves at 156 for seven in the 39th over when Utseya joined Chigumbura. Showing great confidence, Utseya played with authority and calmness of a frontline batsman. To finish the game, Utseya smacked it for a six off Mitchell Starc to begin the celebrations. It truly was a big moment in Zimbabwe’s recent history.

7) Shahid Afridi: 59 off 25 balls vs Bangladesh at Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium, Dhaka.

A game after his heroics against India in the Asia Cup 2014, Pakistan summoned Afridi’s magic yet again to save them the embarrassment of losing to Bangladesh in Dhaka. The hosts batted brilliantly to make 326, capitalising on some poor work by Pakistan in the field. Pakistan huffed and puffed during the run-chase, but were kept in the game by Ahmed Shehzad’s ton. But on 225 for five in the 42nd over, they were at risk of losing. Out came Afridi and silenced the Dhaka crowd. In control of his game, he carted the ball around the ground to whack seven sixes and raced away to his fifty. By the time he was out, Pakistan had a relatively easy task at hand, and was achieved. Bangladesh had no idea what hit them as it took Afridi only 25 balls to change the course of the game.

Moeen Ali (above) put on display a wide range of strokes in his 119 © Getty Images
Moeen Ali (above) put on display a wide range of strokes in his 119 © Getty Images

8) Moeen Ali: 119 off 87 balls vs Sri Lanka at R Premadasa Stadium, Colombo.

Though it came in a losing cause, Moeen Ali’s maiden ODI ton was an innings of great quality. With England struggling in ODIs, they found this new man to open the batting with some grace and elegance combined with the aggression of any modern player. England were chasing 318 in the first ODI at Premadasa when Moeen got into the act with some good strokes. He worked his way to a 25-ball fifty, which is the second fastest in ODIs for England and then carried on to keep England in the game. He was only dismissed post 30 overs and Sri Lanka were getting back into the contest then. However, this innings was memorable for the ease with which he got to the ton.

9) AB de Villiers: 136 not out off 106 balls vs Australia at Harare Sports Club, Harare.

The Australia-South Africa rivalry moved to Zimbabwe during the tri-series. In their very first encounter, Australia piled 327 with Aaron Finch scoring a ton. In response, South Africa lost two wickets inside the first ten overs. AB de Villiers and Faf du Plessis came together and put up a 206-run stand that got them back in the game. De Villiers took only 106 balls for his unbeaten 136 and took South Africa to victory by seven wickets with 20 balls to spare. The intensity continued through the series as South Africa went on to beat Australia in the final.

10) Kumar Sangakkara: 103 off 84 balls vs India at Khan Saheb Osman Ali Stadium, Fatullah

India had set a target of 265 and Sri Lanka were led well by Kusal Perera’s typically spirited fifty at the top. However, Sri Lanka were continuously losing wickets after his fall and Kumar Sangakkara kept them together with an innings that brought caution and aggression. Despite wickets falling, he continued to score at a good rate and got to his ton. He was the eighth batsman dismissed with Sri Lanka needing seven runs off the last nine balls. But, Sangakkara had essayed an innings of class and pedigree. The ease with which he played stood out and he seemed a class apart when batting got tougher. Sri Lanka won the game with four balls to spare.

(Nishad Pai Vaidya is a Correspondent with CricketCountry and anchor for the site’s YouTube Channel. His Twitter handle is @nishad_45)