Best Australian ODI run chases

20 October 2013

Michael Bevan

James Faulkner's heroics in the third ODI against India will go down as one of Australia's greatest run chases.

But where does it rank compared to other 50 over pursuits? 

Here are six of the best over the last 20 years. Tell us your favourites by commenting below.

Port Elizabeth, 2002
Australia 7-330 (Ponting 92, Lehmann 91, Gilchrist 52) defeated South Africa 3-326 (Smith 84, Kallis 80*, Rhodes 71*) by three wickets with five balls to spare.

Graeme Smith won the toss and elected to bat on a road at St George's Park. Australia had already wrapped up the ODI series 4-0 and were looking to keep their unbeaten run intact. Smith, Jacques Kallis and Jonty Rhodes made good use of the short boundaries, posting the highest score against Australia in ODI cricket.

Adam Gilchrist did what Adam Gilchrist did best, thrashing the South African attack to all parts to raise his 50 from only 27 balls. He fell in the ninth over to make it 1-81, before Ricky Ponting and Darren Lehmann went to work on the mammoth total. The pair combined for 183 in just under 30 overs, offering no chances and batting Australia into favouritism. Both men were dismissed in the nineties but the damage had been done, Michael Bevan and Shane Warne saw Australia home, breaking the world record for the highest successful run chase and keeping the Proteas winless.

Leeds, 1999
Australia 5-272 (S. Waugh 120*, Ponting 69) defeated South Africa 7-271 (Gibbs 101, Cullinan 50, Fleming 3-57) by five wickets with two balls to spare.

The 1999 World Cup didn't go to plan in the early stages for Australia. Losses to Pakistan and New Zealand saw Australia creep into the second phase. The equation was simple in the Super Sixes: win or go home. Win was what they did, defeating India and Zimbabwe, leaving South Africa to qualify for the semi-finals. Herschelle Gibbs sparkled with superb 101 as the Proteas posted 7-271 from their 50 overs.

Australia were in deep trouble when Steve Waugh strode to the crease at 3-48 in the 12th over. A captain's knock was needed and that's exactly what was delivered, as Waugh and Ricky Ponting put on 126 to even out the momentum. The real turning point and arguably the moment of the entire World Cup came when Waugh was on 56. A flick to mid-wicket found the lurking Gibbs who latched on to the chance, but in the act of celebration incredibly spilled the ball. Waugh would be quick to point out what that meant: "I hope you realise you've just lost the game for your team". Tugga would go on to make 120 off 110 balls and see Australia home, securing a spot in the semi-final and a rematch with South Africa. We all know what happened next...

Melbourne, 2011
Australia 4-297 (Watson 161*, Haddin 39, Clarke 36) defeated England 294 (Pietersen 78, Strauss 63, Davies 42) by six wickets with five balls to spare.

England would look to continue their successful tour of the antipodes, this time in the 50-over format at the MCG. Andrew Strauss won the toss and chose to bat, setting up a big total with fellow opener Steven Davies. The duo hammered 90 runs in 12 overs before Davies would depart, allowing Kevin Pietersen (78) and friends to post an ultra-competitive 294.

A summer of starts without going on to triple figures troubled all-rounder Shane Watson, but that wouldn't be the case on this night. Watson carried his bat, making 161 from 150 balls including 12 fours and four sixes. Fast or slow, all of England's bowlers felt Watson's wrath, ably supported by Brad Haddin (39) and Michael Clarke (36). Cameos from Mike Hussey and Cameron White got Australia over the line, registering a much needed victory over the old enemy. 

Melbourne, 2001
Australia 8-248 (Bevan 102*, Bond 4-38) defeated New Zealand 8-245 (Cairns 55, Fleming 50) by two wickets with three balls to spare.

If there's something strange in the neighbourhood you call the Ghostbusters. If your side is in the strife chasing a big total you call Michael Bevan. New Zealand and South Africa had it all over Australia in the 2001-02 tri-series, and by the time match 10 rolled around the locals were almost out of the race for the finals. The Black Caps scored a respectable but not outstanding 8-245 from their 50 overs on a slow MCG deck. Chris Cairns and captain Stephen Fleming making neat half-centuries.

The one man that continually contributed to Australia's woes that summer was lethal weapon Shane Bond, again crippling the hosts by removing Ricky Ponting and Adam Gilchrist quickly, then returning to dismiss Ian Harvey to have the hosts 6-82 after 21.3 overs. Steve Waugh picked up the phone and called Chasebuster Bevan, who answered the call like he had so many times before. Bevan teamed up with Shane Warne and Brett Lee, steering Australia to victory with surgeon like precision, scoring his sixth and final ODI hundred for his country. Andy Bichel's two boundaries off Bond sealed the win, showing a cool head he'd require later in his career and adding another chapter to Michael Bevan's 'How to chase down a target' manual.

Port Elizabeth, 2003
Australia 8-208 (Bevan 74*, Lehmann 37, Bichel 34*, Caddick 4-35) defeated England 8-204 (Stewart 46, Flintoff 45, Bichel 7-20) by two wickets with two balls to spare.

Australia had a rocky start to the 2003 World Cup. Shane Warne was banned, Darren Lehmann suspended and injuries to key players threatened to derail their title defence. Instead, those issues galvanised the squad, rolling through the tournament untroubled until the Old Enemy at Port Elizabeth. England's tactic of attacking spearhead Glenn McGrath paid dividends early on, before Andy Bichel would be introduced and begin the match of his life. The Queensland quick took an amazing 7-20, limiting England to 8-204 from their allotted 50 overs.

England's strong start was mirrored in the second innings; Andy Caddick taking the first four wickets to humble Australia to 4-48 in the ninth over. A 63-run stand between and Darren Lehman and yep, you guessed it, Michael Bevan steadied the ship but three quick wickets rocked the boat, and when Brett Lee was run out for six it was left to Bevan and Bichel to guide Australia home. In what was now certainly the game of his life, Bichel scored at almost a run-a-ball, outscoring Bevan who was confidently giving the strike to the future national selector. Fourteen was needed with two overs to go, and after Bichel launched James Anderson for a monster six and a boundary only two runs were required from Andrew Flintoff's final over. The glue of the innings hit the winning runs; Bevan again unbeaten in a run chase, securing Australia's unblemished record and with it a belief of victory from any situation.

Sydney, 1996
Australia 9-173 (Bevan 78*, Reiffel 34, Ambrose 3-20) defeated West Indies 9-172 (Hooper 93*, Harper 28, Reiffel 4-29) by one wicket with zero balls to spare.

The match that started the legend. Rain shortened each innings to 43 overs each, spicing up the wicket and lowering projected scores. Paul Reiffel and Shane Warne made the most of the conditions, running through the Windies in front of a packed SCG crowd. If it wasn't for Carl Hooper's unbeaten 93 Australia may well have been chasing a double-figure total. Instead, they had 173 to track down with a batting line-up including names like Taylor, Slater, Ponting and Mark Waugh.

Australia's batsmen were evenly matched up against the West Indies fast bowlers, though on a wicket which assisted the seamers Curtly Ambrose didn't need a second invitation. The frightening fast man ripped open the hosts' top order, taking 3-20 - Ricky Ponting bowled for a golden duck. At 7-74 Australia were beat, but little did they know the chase could not have been in safer hands. Michael Bevan only hit six boundaries in his 78, finding gaps, working twos and manipulating the field to drive the West Indies to the brink of insanity. His partner in crime was hero with the ball Paul Reiffel, showing faith in the lower order he'd become known for. 

Bevan did have a life, dropped by Roger Harper off his own bowling. The off-spinner claimed the catch, but Bevan didn't move, and on closer inspection Harper fumbled the catch and with it the match. Three balls remained and Australia needed five runs off three balls. Glenn McGrath, years before his polished Test fifty, had the anxious crowd on the edge of their seats. Incredulously, McGrath's inside edge squirted out to the off-side to get Bevan on strike for the final two deliveries. Harper's penultimate ball yorked Bevan, resulting in a dot with four required from the last ball. There couldn't have been a better setting to crown Australia's one-day prince, and when Bevan crunched Harper over the umpire's head to the boundary the coronation was complete. The crowd went berserk, the dressing room erupted and Bevan stood there, arms raised, soaking it all in. The greatest run chase by the greatest closer in ODI history. 

About the Writer


Sam Ferris is a writer for He started in 2011 as a Big Bash League correspondent and continues to monitor the domestic scene and national sides closely.

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