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  • September 07, 2023 9 min read

    Cricket World Cups are where legends are born, moments are etched in memory, and the game's soul shines its brightest. Amidst the roar of the crowds and the pressure of representing nations, some individual performances have transcended the sport's boundaries. They are the innings that stand out like shining stars against the backdrop of cricket history. In this countdown, we bring you the top 10 World Cup innings ever played, each a story of grit, passion, and unforgettable cricketing brilliance.

    In the pages ahead, we'll relive these iconic moments when batsmen became heroes, teams found their saviors, and cricket aficionados witnessed history unfold. From the swagger of Vivian Richards to the grace of Sachin Tendulkar, these innings have left an indelible mark on the sport we love. So, let's dive into the heart of cricket's grandest stage, one innings at a time, and celebrate the magic that makes the Cricket World Cup an unparalleled spectacle.

    #10: Adam Gilchrist's 149 vs. Sri Lanka (2007)


    In the 2007 Cricket World Cup final, Adam Gilchrist etched his name into the annals of cricket history with a breathtaking display of power-hitting. Opening the innings for Australia, Gilchrist's explosive 149 off 104 balls was nothing short of a masterclass in limited-overs cricket and a huge surprise because explosive batting was usually associated with his opening partner Matthew Hayden who was mere spectator on the other end during this innings. The stage was set at the Kensington Oval in Barbados, with Australia facing off against Sri Lanka. Gilchrist's fearless approach was evident as he sent deliveries soaring into the Caribbean sky, reaching his century in just 72 balls, a record for the fastest century in a World Cup final at the time.

    What made Gilchrist's innings even more remarkable was his integrity. In a pivotal moment, he admitted to the umpire that he had edged the ball and walked off, showcasing a rare act of sportsmanship. His blitzkrieg propelled Australia to 281/4 in their allotted 38 overs, and Sri Lanka's pursuit of 269 runs in 36 overs proved insurmountable. Australia secured their third consecutive World Cup title, but it was Gilchrist's audacious innings that stood as a testament to the power of his strokeplay, the integrity of his character, and the sheer spectacle of cricket at its finest—a moment that defined a World Cup final.

    #9: Kane Williamson's 148 vs. West Indies (2019)


    In the 2019 Cricket World Cup, Kane Williamson, the cool-headed captain of New Zealand, delivered an innings of sheer class and determination. The battleground was Old Trafford in Manchester, where New Zealand found themselves reeling at 7/2 within the first three overs against the menacing West Indian pace attack. In this moment of crisis, Williamson emerged as the savior, showcasing his remarkable ability to handle pressure.

    What followed was a batting exhibition. Williamson, known for his exquisite technique, calmly rebuilt the innings in partnership with Ross Taylor. His 148 off 154 balls was a testament to his adaptability, blending elegant strokes with the urgency of limited-overs cricket. Notably, Williamson reached his century with precision, setting the stage for a competitive total of 291/8. This innings laid the foundation for New Zealand's triumph over West Indies and proved pivotal in their journey to the World Cup final, where they narrowly missed out on the title in a thrilling contest against England. Kane Williamson's 148 wasn't just an innings; it was a masterpiece of leadership and batting prowess, embodying the timeless allure of cricket's artistry.

    #8: Kevin O'Brien's 113 vs. England (2011)


    In the 2011 Cricket World Cup, Irish cricketer Kevin O'Brien etched his name into the tournament's history with a heroic innings that defied all odds. The underdogs Ireland was up against England, a cricketing powerhouse, in a group stage match. What followed would go down as one of the greatest upsets in cricket history.

    Facing a daunting target of 328 runs, Ireland's chances seemed bleak as they stuttered at 106/4. That's when Kevin O'Brien, with a steely resolve and the weight of his team's aspirations on his shoulders, took center stage. In an awe-inspiring display of power-hitting and composure, O'Brien blasted his way to a century, reaching 100 in just 50 balls, the fastest in World Cup history at the time. His explosive 113 off 63 balls, including 13 boundaries and 6 sixes, stunned the cricketing world and helped Ireland achieve the improbable. They chased down the target with three wickets to spare, marking one of the most remarkable upsets in the history of the World Cup. Kevin O'Brien's innings against England wasn't just an incredible feat of batting; it was a symbol of the underdog spirit in cricket. It showcased the potential for magic to happen on the world stage and served as a reminder that in cricket, as in life, the impossible can be achieved with determination and belief.

    #7: Grant Elliott's 84 vs. South Africa (2015)


    In the 2015 Cricket World Cup semifinal, New Zealand and South Africa clashed in a match that would be etched into cricketing history, largely thanks to one man: Grant Elliott. Facing a target of 298, New Zealand found themselves in a precarious position at 149/4, with South Africa scenting victory. That's when Elliott, the unassuming all-rounder, took center stage in an innings that would define his career.

    With composure and steely determination, Elliott anchored New Zealand's innings with an unbeaten 84* off 73 balls. What made his innings even more remarkable was the context—it came in the penultimate over of the match, with New Zealand needing five runs to win. Facing one of the most nerve-wracking moments in cricket, Elliott dispatched Dale Steyn for a colossal six over deep midwicket to seal a dramatic victory. His emotional celebration, sinking to his knees, resonated with cricket fans worldwide. This remarkable innings not only took New Zealand to their first-ever World Cup final but also symbolized the unpredictability and sheer drama that makes cricket the sport it is.

    #6: Sachin Tendulkar's 98 vs. Pakistan (2003)


    In the high-stakes encounter of the 2003 Cricket World Cup, it was the master himself, Sachin Tendulkar, who stole the spotlight. India faced arch-rivals Pakistan in a match that carried enormous emotional weight and cricketing prestige. Tendulkar, often referred to as the "Little Master," played an innings for the ages.

    Batting first, India needed a solid start, and Tendulkar delivered with unparalleled finesse. His 98 off 75 balls was a masterpiece of timing, placement, and determination. Tendulkar's classical strokes were a sheer delight, as he dissected the Pakistani bowling attack with surgical precision. His cover drives, flicks, and exquisite leg-glances flowed effortlessly. However, it wasn't just about the beauty of his shots; it was the audacity with which he approached the high-pressure situation that left a lasting impact. Sadly, Tendulkar missed out on a well-deserved century, falling just two runs short. Nevertheless, his innings set the tone for India's total of 300/7.

    #5: Brian Lara's 116 vs. South Africa (1999)


    In the 1999 Cricket World Cup, Brian Lara, the West Indies cricketing icon, delivered an innings that epitomized his brilliance and left an indelible mark on the tournament. Facing off against South Africa, a formidable team known for their lethal bowling attack, Lara showcased his unmatched talent and willpower.

    Chasing a target of 186 runs, the West Indies found themselves reeling at 80/4, with the South African bowlers wreaking havoc. In walked Brian Lara, and what followed was a batting masterclass. Lara's 116* off 134 balls was an extraordinary exhibition of grace and grit. He combined elegant cover drives with resolute defense, rescuing the West Indies from a dire situation. His unbeaten century was not only a display of world-class batsmanship but also a testament to his ability to absorb pressure and steer his team to victory. Thanks to Lara's heroics, the West Indies reached the target with just one wicket to spare, marking one of the most memorable comebacks in World Cup history.

    #4: MS Dhoni's 91 vs. Sri Lanka (2011)


    The 2011 Cricket World Cup final was a grand spectacle, and at the heart of India's historic victory stood their charismatic captain, MS Dhoni. Facing Sri Lanka at Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai, India found themselves in a challenging situation with 277 runs to chase for victory.

    Dhoni, renowned for his cool and composed demeanor under pressure, played one of the most iconic innings in World Cup history. Walking in at number five, he anchored the innings with an unbeaten 91* off 79 balls. What made his innings special was the context—it was the World Cup final, and India was in pursuit of their first title since 1983. Dhoni's calculated aggression and impeccable timing were on full display as he meticulously took India towards the target. He launched a massive six to seal the victory, finishing the game in style. His leadership and batting prowess in that final were emblematic of his captaincy style, where he led from the front, clinching India's second World Cup triumph in front of a passionate home crowd. MS Dhoni's unbeaten 91 against Sri Lanka in the 2011 World Cup final was more than just an innings; it was a captain's masterpiece. It symbolized his ability to handle pressure with poise, take calculated risks, and steer his team to glory. 

    #3: AB de Villiers' 162 vs. West Indies (2015)


    In the 2015 Cricket World Cup, South Africa's AB de Villiers showcased an extraordinary display of power-hitting and innovation that redefined the limits of limited-overs cricket. Facing the West Indies at Sydney Cricket Ground, de Villiers played an innings that left both fans and opponents in awe.

    Chasing a target of 408, South Africa found themselves in a challenging situation at 146/3. In walked de Villiers, and what followed was pure cricketing magic. His unbeaten 162* off just 66 balls was an exhibition of unparalleled skill and audacity. De Villiers' innings combined classical cricket shots with an array of innovative strokes that left the fielding side helpless. He smashed boundaries to all corners of the ground, showcasing his ability to find gaps and clear the boundaries at will. De Villiers reached his century in just 52 balls, the fastest in World Cup history at that time. His incredible innings powered South Africa to a staggering total of 408/5, which proved insurmountable for the West Indies. It was an innings that not only redefined modern-day cricket but also established de Villiers as one of the game's greatest innovators and entertainers. AB de Villiers' unbeaten 162* against the West Indies in the 2015 World Cup wasn't just an innings; it was a spectacle, a breathtaking display of power-hitting and creativity.

    #2: Kapil Dev's 175 vs. Zimbabwe (1983)


    In the 1983 Cricket World Cup, India's charismatic captain, Kapil Dev, played an innings that would become the stuff of legends. Facing Zimbabwe in a group stage match at Tunbridge Wells, India found themselves in dire straits at 17/5, with their World Cup dreams hanging by a thread.

    Kapil Dev, known for his fearless and aggressive style of play, walked in at number six, and what followed was a breathtaking display of counter-attacking cricket. His iconic 175* off 138 balls was a masterclass in power-hitting and resilience. Kapil's innings combined blistering strokes, particularly his lofted drives and pulls, with impeccable timing. He single-handedly resurrected India's innings from the brink of collapse, guiding them to a formidable total of 266/8 in 60 overs. His calculated aggression was on full display, and his ability to clear the boundaries at crucial moments was pivotal. Zimbabwe's captain, Mike Gatting, later called Kapil's innings the greatest one-day innings ever played. This historic innings not only took India to victory but also laid the foundation for their triumph in the 1983 World Cup, a landmark achievement in Indian cricket history.

    Kapil Dev's unbeaten 175* against Zimbabwe in the 1983 World Cup remains a cricketing folklore. It was more than just an innings; it was a symbol of resilience, belief, and leadership. It showcased the power of an individual to inspire a team to greatness.

    #1: Ben Stokes' 84 vs. New Zealand (2019)


    The 2019 Cricket World Cup final at Lord's will forever be remembered for its nail-biting drama, and at the heart of it all was England's talismanic all-rounder, Ben Stokes. Facing off against New Zealand in a match that ended in a dramatic tie even after the Super Over, it was Stokes who stood as a symbol of unyielding determination.

    With England chasing a target of 241, they found themselves in a precarious position at 86/4. Enter Ben Stokes. What followed was an epic innings that combined gritty determination with audacious strokeplay. Stokes anchored the innings with his unbeaten 84* off 98 balls, ensuring that England remained in contention. He displayed nerves of steel, especially in the closing stages of the match, when England needed 15 runs from the final over. Stokes' sheer willpower and ability to find boundaries under pressure kept England's World Cup dreams alive. Ultimately, England and New Zealand both finished with 241 runs, leading to the dramatic Super Over that ended in England's favor, securing their first-ever World Cup title. Ben Stokes' heroics in that final were nothing short of legendary, making him a cricketing icon and a man who has since been established as a player of the big occasions.

    In the grand tapestry of cricket's history, these ten remarkable innings shine as beacons of excellence and inspiration. From Kapil Dev's heroic 175* that paved India's path to World Cup glory in 1983 to AB de Villiers' breathtaking 162* that redefined the boundaries of possibility, these moments encapsulate the very essence of the sport. They are a testament to the courage, skill, and indomitable spirit of cricketers who dared to dream, who stood tall against adversity, and who etched their names in the annals of cricketing lore.

    As we celebrate these iconic innings and their enduring legacy, we look forward with anticipation to the upcoming World Cup, where new heroes will emerge, and fresh chapters in cricket's epic saga will be written. The stage is set for another chapter of history to unfold, as the world's cricketing nations prepare to battle it out once more. In the midst of this excitement, we are reminded that the beauty of cricket lies in its ability to continually captivate our hearts, and as fans, we eagerly await the next generation of unforgettable World Cup innings that will shape the future of the sport we hold dear.