WC countdown: Top 5 batting innings

New Delhi: Brief run-down of the top batting knocks in the World Cup (against Test playing nations only) ahead of the 2011 edition which starts on Saturday:

1. Saurav Ganguly (India) - 183 (158 balls, 17 fours, 7 sixes) v Sri Lanka, Taunton, 1999

Ganguly provided a taste of what T20 might be like with his towering hits that almost cleared the outskirts of the town, let alone Taunton`s tiny ground. After stuttering in their opening encounter against South Africa and choking in a space of six balls from Henry Olonga against Zimbabwe, India needed to win big against Sri Lanka. Ganguly`s innings ensured just that and provided the momentum for a place in the Super Sixes. However, the early setbacks cost India the chance of further qualification.

2. Viv Richards (West Indies) - 181 (125 balls, 16 fours, 7 sixes) v Sri Lanka, Karachi, 1987

Richards walked in to bat on a hat-trick and by the time he departed, he had scored the highest score (then) in a World Cup. He went about his business in such a savage manner that Desmond Haynes` 105 almost seemed pedestrian by comparison. It was a perfect riposte to two back-to-back losses in World Cups for the West Indies (1983 finals to India; opening encounter against England in 1987). Although, they exited before the semi-finals, Richards had once again stamped his authority on the World Cup.

3. Matthew Hayden (Australia) 158 (143 balls, 14 fours, 4 sixes) v West Indies, North Sound, 2007

Hayden imposed himself on the home side with an innings of various gears. It was an uncharacteristic innings, given it was Ricky Ponting, Michael Clarke and Shane Watson who provided the impetus while the big man almost played a `sheet anchor` role by his standards. Having not opened his account for 18 deliveries, he got to his 50 in 72 deliveries, and it was only in the 45th over that he really went into overdrive. Despite a glimpse of Brian Lara`s class, there was no stopping Australia.

4. Adam Gilchrist (Australia) 149 (104 balls, 13 fours, 8 sixes) v Sri Lanka, Bridgetown, 2007

Clive Lloyd (1975), Viv Richards (1979), Aravinda de Silva (1996), Ponting (2003) and Gilchrist (2007). It is a Who`s Who list of batsmen who left their indelible mark on World Cup finals. After a rather tepid tournament by his standards, Gilchrist -- with a squash ball inside his gloves -- treated the cricket ground akin to a squash court. His brutal assault propelled Australia, and although Sanath Jayasuriya and Kumar Sangakarra made a game of it, they could not stop Australia from winning the 2007 World Cup for the third consecutive time.

5. AB de Villiers (South Africa) 146 (130 balls, 12 fours, 5 sixes) v West Indies, St George`s, 2007

With the West Indies already out of contention for a semi-final slot, Lara experimented with some debatable team selection and bowling decisions. But nothing can be taken away from the knock of De Villiers, who ensured that South Africa`s shock defeat to Bangladesh was an aberration.

Although Sarwan tried gamely, South Africa eased through to the semis where, again, their fragile batting was exposed by the Australians, thus re-invigorating the tag of `chokers`.

Bureau Report

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