The role of a ‘finisher’ in white-ball cricket is to take control and play according to the changing needs of the situation. To ensure that a wicket doesn’t fall in a clutch moment, and yet, the scorecard keeps ticking at regular intervals with shots across the park or by running in between the wickets.
As we, the cricket fans, expect the openers to go bonkers onto the opposition bowlers from the very moment in Test matches and provide a solid found nation for the remaining batters, a similar yet more combative approach is expected of the finishers, batting in the middle-order, to surmount pressure onto the rivals with their cricketing abilities in the later stages of an innings in limited-overs matches.
It is one of the most difficult jobs that only a few cricketers have managed to pull off successfully with finesse in the history of limited-overs cricket.
Let us take a look at the top 10 finishers of all-time in white-ball cricket:
#10 Javed Miandad (Pakjaistan)
Arguably, one of Pakistan’s all-time great batsmen in limited-overs cricket and one of the cricketers who thrived on a battle on-field. Sledginghad little to no effect on Miandad as it solidified his grit to bring out the best in him. A clever cricketer who played a key role for the Men in Green in their victories in ODIs in the late 70s to mid-90s.
In 47 successful run chases during Miandad’s career, the right-hander aggregated 1656 runs at an average of 66.24, including 14 half-centuries and a solitary century, with a personal best of 116* against India during the Austral-Asia Cup final in Sharjah in 1986, where he struck a six of the final ball of Chetan Sharma and penned his name down the history books.
#9 Ajay Jadeja (India)
The Jamnagar-born was one of India’s most flamboyant cricketers in the 1990s. A gun fielder who with his willow’s prowess could flick runs for fun at the latter stages of an innings.
His most memorable knock, that perhaps etched him in the minds of the cricket fanatics forever, would the 25-ball 45 against Pakistan in the second Quarter-Final of the 1996 World Cup at M Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bengaluru. Coming in to bat at No 6, the right-hander played a whirlwind knock where he struck 4 fours and 2 sixes to steer Team India to a total of 287 runs in 50 overs.
Although Jadeja was a bankable player in both innings of a limited-overs contest, he was highly effective during the successful run-chases, amassing 1070 runs in 37 innings at an average of 48.63, with a hundred and 8 fifties.
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#8 Jos Buttler (England)
One of his knocks that almost goes unnoticed is his 60-ball 59 against New Zealand in the 2019 World Cup finals that inched the hosts closer to the Kiwi’s total that was eventually tied at first, followed by the super-over. Coming in to bat when England’s scorecard rea 86/4 in 23.1 overs, Bairstow, who is usually a highly attacking batsman, stitched the innings in a calm and composed manner alongside Ben Stokes, adding a mighty 110-runs for the fifth-wicket.
But not just in the middle-order, Buttler is someone who has excelled even as a top-order batsman. Some of his notable exhibitions came during IPL 2018, where the Englishman was promoted up the order for his IPL franchise – Rajasthan Royals, and single-handedly steered the Rajasthan-based team to the playoffs, courtesy of his knocks of 67,51, 82, 95*, 94*, and 39 in the league stages.
So far in ODIs, in England has been successful in using his finishing abilities to optimum use. In 33 successful run-chases, Buttler has clobbered 666 runs at an average and strike rate of 60.54 and 113.07 respectively, including a hundred and four fifties. With the ability that he possesses, the right-hander could be England’s X factor in the forthcoming T20 World Cups in 2021 and 2022, followed by the 50-over World Cup in 2023.
#7 Andre Russell (West Indies)
Talk about formulating a list of finishers in white-ball cricket then one certainly can’t miss out on the Caribbean giant – Andre Russell. An absolute beast on his day who could steer any delivery straight across the fence with his power-hitting prowess is by far the most feared batter in the current white-ball scenario.
The Cricket fraternity witnessed his mayhem in the 2019 edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) where he plundered runs from the RCB’s bowling attack and smashed an unimaginable 48* off 13 deliveries, chasing a 206-run target, and steered the Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) to a 5-wicket victory with five balls to spare.
One of the notable instances was during the second T20I of the three-match series against Sri Lanka in 2020 where he erupted a 14-ball 40 with 6 sixes and a strike rate of 287 to chase 156 runs in 17 overs. Undoubtedly, one of the best in the business for the West Indies cricket team.
And not to forget, his unbeaten 20-ball 43* comprising 3 fours and 4 sixes at a jaw-dropping strike rate of an exact 215.00 against India in the 2016 T20 World Cup Semi-Finals at Wankhede to ensure a successful chase of 196 runs.
#6 Suresh Raina (India)
One can fall short of words to describe how valuable he has been to Indian cricket in the middle-order. He along with MS Dhoni and Yuvraj Singh formed the core of India’s batting and saved the day on a number of occasions by anchoring and accelerating the innings at the situation’s behest.
The southpaw played a gem of knocks on three occasions that helped Team India seal clutch victories in ODI cricket – 34*(28) against Australia while chasing 261 in the Quarter-Final and then 36*(29) against arch-rivals Pakistan to steer the Men in Blue to a target of 260 in the Semi-Final of the 2011 World Cup, and the 110 off 104 deliveries against Zimbabwe in 2015 World Cup wherein India was reduced to 4/92 in their chase of 288.
Overall in successful run-chases in ODIs, Raina averaged 66.00, aggregating 1865 runs in 55 innings at a strike rate of 101.74, including 2 hundreds and 5 fifties.
#5 Michael Hussey (Australia)
Fondly known by the cricket world as ‘Mr. Cricket’, Hussey is a rare breed of cricketers who carved an impact and legacy for themselves at the international arena post the age of 30.
A member of the Australian cricket team during the Golden Era in ODI cricket who could tonk the bowlers with ease, the southpaw made 185 appearances out of which, he contributed with his willow in successful run-chases on 27 occasions, aggregating 741 runs at an average of 74.10 including four fifties, and a personal best of 75* against New Zealand in Adelaide back in 2009.
#4 Yuvraj Singh (India)
“Looking forward to scoring lots of runs for my team.”
Yuvraj Singh had tweeted way back in 2010, at a time when the southpaw was having his share of troubles with his willow. Cometh the 2011 World Cup and the Chandigarh-born defied the imagination and scored 362 runs in 8 innings at an average of 90.50 and a strike rate of 86.19, with 4 fifties and a hundred. He had the best seat during the finals against Sri Lanka, as he remained unbeaten on the non-strikers’ end, scoring 21* off 24 deliveries.
Making his debut in the 2000 ICC Knockout Trophy against Australia, Yuvraj clocked a match-winning 84 that although was followed by few inconsistent performances, still managed to emerge as the fulcrum of India’s batting-order in limited-overs cricket. One of his early heroics in successful run-chases was against England in the 2002 Natwest Trophy finals, which goes down as one of the greatest matches ever played.
Batting alongside Mohammed Kaif (87*), Yuvraj forged a match-changing partnership of 120 runs for the sixth-wicket and contributed an individual tally of 69 runs off 63 deliveries that sealed the chances of an Indian triumph on foreign soil. Another equally enthralling exhibition from the left-hander came sometime later during the 2003 World Cup match against Pakistan, where he notched an unbeaten half-century to help India post in excess of 270 runs.
And certainly, one can’t forget Yuvraj’s heroics during the inaugural T20 World Cup in 2007. His 6-sixes in an over off England pacer Stuart road at the back end of an innings, eventually scoring 58 off 16 deliveries to set 219-run chase for the rivals.
Against a peak Australian attack in the Quarter-Finals, Yuvraj unleashed a rampage whilst batting in the middle-order, hammering a 30-ball 70 with 5 fours and 5 sixes to set a target of 188 runs for the Aussies.
If we talk about his statistics in successful run-chases in ODIs, the 39-year-old batted on 78 occasions and scored 2766 runs at an average of 54.23 and a strike rate of 83.97, including 2 hundreds and 22 fifites.
#3 Lance Klusener (South Africa)
Klusener’s approach towards the limited-overs that comprised power-hitting when batting in the lower-middle-order at the fag end of an ODI inning, not in a wild fashion but smashing the deliveries in the right slots to extract quick runs from the opposition. is something that the entire cricket world has been following post his departure from the gentleman’s game.
Some of his knocks for the Proteas when he battled it out against the rivals – 45-ball 52* against Sri Lanka to steer South Africa to a target of 199/9, a 41-ball 46* run chase against a daunting Pakistani bowling attack, or a last-ball boundary during a nerve-wracking run-chase against the Kiwis in Napier in 1999 show that he was an ideal match-winner on his day.
In total, Klusener appeared in 60 successful run-chases in ODI cricket where he batted on 33 occasions and scored 907 runs at an average and strike rate of 47.73 and 97.94 respectively, including a hundred and 5 fifties.
His hitting skills may have waned in the past 2-3 years but Dhoni, still found a way, to steer his side past the finishing line in middling run-chases where he thrived on taking the game to the deep end.
Dhoni was a part of 112 successful run-chases in his ODI career where he racked up 2556 runs at an average of 91.28 with the help of 19 half-centuries and one hundred.
#2 MS Dhoni (India)
Often known by the cricket pundits and widely accepted by the cricket fraternity as the cricketer who redefined the art of finishing. Arguably, India’s greatest finishers to date and one of the all-time batting legends, MS Dhoni’s potency to absorb a ton of pressure during clutch moments of the game and yet exhibit supreme confidence with his shot selections to eventually chase down totals is something that cemented his spot as one of the greatest finishers the game has ever witnessed.
Be it saving the team post a collapse and steering them to a competitive total by targeting the right bowlers throughout the innings remains one of his most noticeable approaches towards finishing in limited-overs cricket.
Although there are many such knocks of the former Indian skipper, one certainly won’t forget his masterstroke on the night of the 2011 World Cup finals against Sri Lanka. Inspite of form issues in the league stages, the then Indian skipper promoted himself up the order, above an in-form Yuvraj Singh, and played a knock of the ages, scoring 91* off 79 deliveries to seal the World Cup for India after a gap of 28 years.
Overall in successful run-chases in ODIs, MS Dhoni batted on 76 occasions, remaining unbeaten on 47 such instances, scored 2876 runs at an average and strike rate of 102.71 and 88.00, including 2 centuries and 20 half-centuries, with a career-best of 183* against Pakistan in 2005.
#1 Michael Bevan (Australia)
If there was one cricketer who started the trend of ‘finishers’ in ODIs and whom the entire cricket world rate as the pioneer as a ‘finisher’ then it has to be Michael Bevan, someone who ensured wins from utmost impossibly situations for Australia in the 1990s and at the dawn of 2000s.
Be it the 78* off 88 deliveries against the West Indies in 1996 post-Australia’s scorecard reading 6/38 or a 102* versus New Zealand in 2002, scripting an Australian triumph by a margin of two wickets in a 246-run chase after initially suffering a collapse of 6/82, one can go on and on the knocks that he played during the rise of the Australian cricket team.
A highly consistent player above all, Bevan averaged 86.25 and cumulated 1725 runs in 45 innings he batted during the 75 successful run-chases, comprising 3 hundreds and 12 fifties.