The just concluded India versus South Africa Momentum 6 match One Day Series has proven that India in terms of performance were just too good for the “Proteas”. What this series filled with “intensity” has also illustrated is that the Indian captain Virat Kohli has genuinely become a world class “chasemaster”. The fact that he scored a total of 558 runs in this six match series (most by any player in a bilateral series) of which scores of 112, 46 not out, and 129 not out came while chasing a target only statistically confirms that “King Kohli” truly has become the master of run chases. Now, apart from Virat there have been a few batsmen over the years who have proven to be world class masters of the chases in the one day form of cricket. So, here is presenting a list of few top class “Chasemasters” that have graced the action packed version of the “Gentleman’s game” better known as “One Day International Cricket”.
a. Michael Bevan- Australia:
“53.58” was the average that Michael Bevan, a left-handed Australian middle-order batsman managed to garner at the end of his career. Renowned for being an excellent finisher mainly in the One Day International format, this batsman over the years has “risen like a phoenix” to the help the Australian cricket team snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. The best example of Bevan’s incredible ability to perform in a pressurized chase, was during a 2003 world cup match against Engalnd played in Port Elizabeth in South Africa. Set a paltry score of 205 for victory the mighty Aussies were reeling at 135/8 before Bevan played a masterly unbeaten innings of 74 off 126 balls along with Andy Bichel who scored 34 off 36 balls to take the team to a miraculous victory. So, having rescued Australia during stiff run chases for a decade or so, it would be apt to state that Bevan belongs to an elite group of “chasemasters” that shall forever be immortalized in the cricketing world.
b. Javed Miandad- Pakistan:
“A typical street fighter of a player” would be the ideal way to describe the Pakistani legend and right-handed batsman Javed Miandad. Gifted with supreme batting skills, Miandad was not only know for his “boundary and six hitting” but also for his aggressive running. In addition, during many a stiff chase this batsman born in Karachi while under severe pressure managed to take his team over the line. Furthermore, he also gained a reputation for being one among a few Pakistani players who consistently performed during a chase while playing arch rivals India. One of his memorable innings while chasing being the last ball six he hit of Indian medium fast bowler Chetan Sharma in a One Day tournament in Sharjah in the year 1986. Considered to one of Pakistan’s greatest batsman, Miandad for his unique ability to chase down a score successfully shall also be remembered as one among a few truly great “chasemasters” that the cricketing world has ever seen.
c. Michael Hussey- Australia:
“Mr Cricket” is the sobriquet given to Australian middle order batsman Michael Hussey for his dedication towards the game. Having first made his debut in One Day Internationals in 2004 against India, he over the years gained the reputation of being a great finisher and proved to be a worthy replacement for Michael Bevan. It was his quick running and well calculated risk taking that has helped Australia get across the line from some extremely sticky situations. A memorable innings of Huss (nickname) coming in 2010 T20 semifinal against Pakistan played in the Caribbean Islands where he scored 60 off just 24 balls to take the Aussies into the finals. This innings included Michael smashing 22 runs in just four balls of the bowling of off-spinner Saaed Ajmal. So, with “Mr Cricket” having finished his career with a One Day international average of 48.15, the fact that he scored many runs during a chase when his team needed him the most, has ensured that he does belong to an elite group of batsmen who can genuinely be called “chasemasters”.
d. MS Dhoni- India:
“Cool as cucumber” is the best way to describe former India captain and wicket-keeper batsman MS Dhoni. It is this extremely “calm” exterior that he possesses which has allowed him to transform from a “destructive” to a “constructive” batsman. Furthermore, a balanced temperament has also enabled him to guide India to victory especially during a stiff chase under conditions of maximum pressure. For example, it was during 2011 World Cup Final held at the Wankhede Standium, that Dhoni scored his first half century of the tournament. 91 not out of 79 balls, and helped team India chase a stiff target of 274 runs. And so, it is his remarkable ability to handle “pressure cooker” situations, that makes MS one of the great ” chasemasters” ever to have graced the game that is supposed to have been created for “Gentlemen”.
e. AB Devilliers- South Africa:
“The 360 degree player” is how the South African right-handed batsman and cricketing legend AB Devilliers is commonly referred to by many cricketing experts. Renowned for possessing an exotic range of strokes, Devilliers holds the record for the “world’s fastest One Day International 50, 100, and 150. Now, over the years this master South African batsman has played some crucial knocks when under pressure while chasing. For example, during a tri-nation series played in Zimbabwe in 2015, while chasing a stiff target of 328 set by Australia, De Villiers led South Africa to eventual victory with a classy 136. Having performed very consistently over the years while chasing with a magnificent average of 81.48 De Villiers has certainly proven that when it comes to “chasemasters” he is right “up there with the best”.
With modern cricket players developing quickly in terms of fitness and and skills one can be assured that in the future we are definitely going to witness the development of a lot more “chasemasters” within the cricketing world.
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