From 1971 to 1995, India was one of the rare teams which had never scored 300 runs in an ODI match. Then in Sharjah on April 15, 1996, captain Mohammed Azharuddin hit 29 runs off 10 balls in the final overs against Pakistan to have India scrape past 300 for the first time ever.
Azhar opened the floodgates for India after that.
Since then Team India has been on a 300 hitting spree and this time another captain in the form of MS Dhoni (139 off 121) took India to its 75th Mohali.
That’s the highest by any team in the 1996-2013 period.
What’s more is that we’ve scored 300 20 times batting second. In fact when man of the match Rohit Sharma hit the inning boundary in the second ODI versus Australia in Jaipur, it was the 14th successful 300+ run chase for India!
Another record was set when a score of 350+ with a loss of just one wicket was made for the very first time.
There’s no doubt about it. When it comes to the magical score of 300 in ODIs, we are the absolute masters.
When we hit 300 for the first time in 1996, it used to be an invincible score and virtually unchaseable. But we first came close to chasing 300 in the very next year with Sri Lanka.
Chasing a target of 303, Azhar and Ajay Jadeja hit fighting centuries to see India lose by a heart-breaking 2 runs. (This despite being at a shaky 64-4 at one stage.)
Our very next 300 in the very next year was a world record chase and that too it came in a tournament final against Pakistan. It doesn’t get better than that.
India’s nemesis Saeed Anwar blasted a 132-ball 140 as our arch-foe put up 314 in 48 overs in the third and deciding final of the Silver Jubilee Independence Cup at Dhaka.
Opener Sourav Ganguly stepped up the tempo at the very beginning of the match and thanks to his brilliant century and we won with a ball to spare. The interesting part was that we achieved this in a cool and clinical manner and Team India hit just 4 sixes.
Of course then came the innings that is etched in our minds forever: The 2002 NatWest Series final at Lord’s. Chasing 326 for victory, India were reeling at 146-5 with the departure of Sachin Tendulkar. Many Indians had already put their TV off.
Yuvraj Singh and Mohammed Kaif got together and put on 121 runs for the wicket and in the end we scraped through by 2 wickets with 3 balls to spare in a nail-biting finish.
How can you possibly hope to better that? You can, if your name is Virat Kohli. Kohli has off late simply gone past the likes of legends like Viv Richards and Virender Sehwag and looks as if he would even chase just about anything.
A look at his astounding hat-trick…
In Hobart in 2012, India chased down a target of 321 runs in a mere 36.4 overs. Kohli was 133 not out off 86 balls. We were on course for chasing 450.
In Mirpur in 2012, we chased down a target of 330 in 47.5 overs. Kohli belted a merciless 183 off 148 balls. Guess how many sixes he hit in that innings? Just one! The art of annihilating high scores in boundaries and singles!
And at Jaipur recently, Team India chased down a target of 360 in 43.3 overs. Kohli clobbered a record breaking 100 off 52 balls, the fastest ODI century by any Indian.
Kohli is just 24 and already he is closing in on 5000 runs and has a whopping 16 centuries at an average of 50. It is safe to say that if he continues like this, then 50 ODI centuries is there for the asking.
It doesn’t end there. A score of 400 has been scored a total of 10 times and India leads that chart too, having crossed the landmark four times, the highest by any team.
If ever the Indian bowlers leak 400 runs in the first innings, then you probably can count on the batsman to chase that score too!
The author is a Bengaluru-based journalist and blogger.
He blogs at http://sunilrajguru.com/