The cricketing world is, quite rightly, gushing about the one-day feats of superstar batsmen AB de Villiers, David Warner, Steve Smith, Rohit Sharma, Tillakaratne Dilshan, Kumar Sangakarra, Brendon McCullum and Kane Williamson ahead of the World Cup. But a 33-year-old pinch-hitting wicketkeeper is muscling in on that mega-talented group and now shapes as one of the unlikely standouts of the tournament.
Just three days after steering New Zealand to a brilliant victory over Sri Lanka in Nelson with a late-innings cameo, veteran keeper-batsman (and ex-Australian ODI rep) Luke Ronchi produced one of the most phenomenal ODI innings of all time to set up another Black Caps triumph in Dunedin.
No.7 Ronchi, whose previous high-score was 99, blasted an extraordinary 170 not out off just 99 balls. New Zealand was struggling at 5/93 when he joined controversial World Cup selection Grant Elliott – whose magnificent 104 not out off 96 balls was effectively dwarfed by his partner’s heroics at the crease. The duo smashed all manner of records in producing a 267-run partnership to power the Black Caps to a mammoth 5/360.
Sri Lanka came up 108 runs short as New Zealand took an unassailable 3-1 lead after five matches of the seven-match series.
Ronchi and Elliott took a hatchet to the record books, so it’s bullet-point time again to illustrate just how remarkable their feats were in the context of ODI history:
Ronchi’s 170* was the 31st highest score in ODI history, but the best-ever score by a No.7 or lower.
- It was the third highest score by a New Zealander, after Martin Guptill’s 189* against England (2013) and Glenn Turner’s 171* against East Africa (1975), both of whom opened the innings.
- It was the third highest score by a wicketkeeper, after MS Dhoni’s 183 (2005) and Adam Gilchrist’s 172 (2004).
- It was the second highest score for an innings consisting of less than 100 balls faced, after Shane Watson’s 185* from 96 balls against Bangladesh (2011).
- Ronchi’s strike-rate of 171.71 was the second highest for a 150-plus score, behind only Watson’s 192.7 (above).
- The unbeaten 267-run partnership between Ronchi and Elliott was the seventh highest of all time, and the fourth highest against a top-eight nation.
- It was the second highest by a New Zealand pair after James Marshall and Brendon McCullum’s 274 for the first wicket against Ireland in 2008. India and Sri Lanka occupy all of the top-five spots; Australia’s best is 252* for the second wicket by Watson and Ricky Ponting against England in 2009.
- The partnership was a world record for the sixth wicket, and the best ever for the fifth wicket or lower.
- It was only the fourth time two players in the same innings coming in at No.5 or lower had scored hundreds.
- New Zealand’s total was their sixth highest ever, and their best against a top eight nation. It beat the Black Caps’ previous best against Sri Lanka by 45 runs.