World's Best Finisher in Cricket

MS Dhoni is widely regarded as the best finisher in ODI cricket. He has the record of the most number of not-outs in successful run-chases.

Dillip Mohanty
Dillip Mohanty

Last Updated: 2023-09-23

One of the most critical factors in a one-day international match is pacing the innings and finishing the game in your team's favour. With the evolution of white-ball cricket, we have witnessed many high-scoring and high-pressure games in the longer format as well. The openers lay the foundation in the first powerplay, the middle order takes the game forward, and the standout performer who relieves the team from the pressure of death overs is known as the finisher. Good finishers ensure they stay till the end and take the team home.

The game has seen many excellent finishers over the years. Whether they bat in the top 3 of the line-up or come down the order in a specialised position to finish the games to perfection, each team has defined the role accordingly. Let's take a look at some of the best finishers in ODI cricket.



MS Dhoni (IND)75472876183*102.7188.002/20
V Kohli (IND)9130543218389.0497.6222/22
MG Bevan (AUS)4525172510786.2566.423/12
AB de Villiers (SA)59282566136*82.7796.905/18
A Ranatunga (SL)56272007131*69.2081.781/3
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MS Dhoni (India)

The former Indian skipper is widely regarded as one of the best finishers in One-Day cricket. In 116 matches where India has won while chasing, Dhoni has batted in 75 innings, remaining not out 47 times, and scored 2876 runs at an average of 102.71 and a strike rate of 88. Dhoni's highest ODI score of 183* was also achieved in similar circumstances against Sri Lanka.

Known for taking the game deep, putting opposition bowlers under pressure, and then achieving the target, Dhoni also boasts 20 half-centuries in successful ODI run chases. Beginning his career as a hard-hitting aggressive batter, Dhoni's understanding of the game evolved when he took over the captaincy. He transformed into a smart middle-order batter catering to the team's needs.

In the latter stage of his career, Dhoni excelled at rotating the strike, converting ones into twos, and displaying excellent six-hitting ability. He believed in taking the game deep into the final two overs, putting the bowler under pressure to defend the total, even if it was just 20 runs needed off the final 2 overs in an ODI.

MS Dhoni Hitting Six in 2011 World Cup Final.jpeg

In 2005, India chased down a challenging total of 299 against Sri Lanka at Jaipur. Dhoni, promoted to number 3, played an unbeaten innings of 183 off just 145 deliveries, securing victory with 23 balls remaining. In another memorable match against Sri Lanka in the Commonwealth Bank Series in 2008, India was 4 wickets down for 99 while chasing 238 at Adelaide. Dhoni played an unbeaten 50, facing 68 balls, and guided the team to victory with 5 balls to spare.

His unbeaten 91 in the 2011 World Cup final against Sri Lanka is a standout inning. Dhoni promoted himself in the order above Yuvraj Singh and Suresh Raina, adding 109 runs with Gautam Gambhir (97) and then sealing the victory with a trademark six down the ground. These are just a few examples of Dhoni's remarkable ability to rescue the team from the brink of defeat and lead them to victory.

Virat Kohli (India)

Another former India captain and one of the senior and most successful batters in the Indian team, Virat Kohli has been a wonderful finisher despite batting at number 3 in the line-up. Kohli has scored the most hundreds in successful run chases in ODIs, with 22 hundreds with a best score of 183 against Pakistan in the 2012 Asia Cup. In a memorable innings while chasing a total of 330, Kohli was sent in to bat in the first over as opener Gautam Gambhir fell for a duck. Kohli built his innings meticulously, reaching 50 in 52 deliveries, 100 in 97, and eventually scoring 183. When he was dismissed, India needed only 12 runs in 17 balls, with six wickets in hand.

In another extraordinary match, India was set an improbable target of 321 to win against Sri Lanka at Hobart. India needed to chase the target inside 40 overs to have a chance of getting through the finals with a bonus point. The top 3 batsmen were dismissed early, but Kohli's resolve shone through. He added 115 runs with Gambhir for the 3rd wicket and then, along with Suresh Raina, smashed the Lankan bowling attack comprising of Lasith Malinga, Nuwan Kulasekara, Angelo Mathews, Thisara Perera to all parts of the Bellerive Oval, guiding India to victory in the 37th over. This was the second chase in ODI history where a team had successfully chased more than 300 runs inside 40 overs.

Virat Kohli 100 in Hobart v Sri Lanka.jpeg

With 22 centuries and 22 half-centuries, Kohli boasts an impressive record in successful ODI run chases, maintaining a strike rate of 97.62 and an average of 89. He has earned a reputation as one of the greatest entertainers and finest finishers in recent times.

Michael Bevan (Australia)

Michael Bevan is one of Australia's finest and one of the earliest known finishers in One-Day cricket. The term 'finisher' was coined for Bevan after his heroic performances for Australia in the 1990s and early 2000s. The left-handed batter was an excellent runner between the wickets and had the brilliant ability to find gaps for singles and doubles. He could also hit the occasional boundary to put pressure back on the bowlers.

Batting in the lower middle order, primarily at number 6 during his ODI career, Bevan's first notable act of finishing came in an ODI against the West Indies in 1996. Chasing a low total of 173 at the Sydney Cricket Ground in 43 overs, Bevan calmly stitched an 83-run partnership with Paul Reiffel (34). With 4 runs required off the final ball and just one wicket in hand, Bevan hit Roger Harper for a boundary to secure a thrilling victory for Australia.

Michael Bevan in ODI.jpeg

Bevan also holds the record for the first ODI century by an Australian batter batting below number 5. Chasing 285 against South Africa, Bevan played a crucial role in a partnership of 189 runs with Steve Waugh (89), and Australia won the match with ease after his dismissal.

In successful run chases for Australia, Bevan scored 12 fifties, 3 centuries, remained unbeaten on 25 occasions, and boasted an impressive average of 86.25 with a strike rate of 66.4. When he retired from the game, his batting average of 53.58 was the highest among batters who had scored at least 1000 runs in their career.

Michael Bevan's ability to remain composed under pressure and guide Australia to victory made him one of the finest finishers in the history of ODI cricket.

AB de Villiers (South Africa)

AB de Villiers, from South Africa, is widely regarded as one of the most innovative batters in modern cricket. Known as "Mr. 360" due to his ability to play astonishing strokes all around the field, de Villiers could dominate spinners and pacers alike from the very beginning of his innings and maintain his assault throughout.

In 59 successful run chases, de Villiers scored 2566 runs at an impressive average and strike rate of 82.77 and 96.9, respectively. He recorded 5 centuries and 18 half-centuries, with 136 not out as his highest score in a successful chase. This remarkable inning came against Australia in 2014 when South Africa chased down 328 with de Villiers remaining unbeaten, smashing 11 fours and 2 sixes.

AB de Villiers 2015 Cricket World Cup.jpeg

In these successful run chases, de Villiers remained unbeaten in 28 innings out of 59, displaying a strike rate in the high 90s and a strong batting average of 82.77. Mr. 360 will be remembered as one of the most remarkable batters South Africa has ever produced and one of the great finishers in the line of Jacques Kallis, Lance Klusener, and others.

Arjuna Ranatunga (Sri Lanka)

Sri Lanka's World Cup-winning captain, Arjuna Ranatunga, is considered one of their finest middle-order batters. Throughout his celebrated 17-year career, which included Sri Lanka's only successful World Cup campaign, Ranatunga remained unbeaten in 27 successful chases, scoring 2007 runs at an average of 69.2 and a strike rate of 81.7. His highest ODI score of 131* was achieved while chasing in the Asia Cup 1997 encounter against India.

Arjuna Ranatunga in ODI.jpeg

In his early years, when the term 'finisher' wasn't as commonly used, Ranatunga helped Sri Lanka chase 208 against Australia in 1983, scoring an unbeaten 55 off 39 balls when the team lost their top 3 wickets. In the 1992 World Cup, he played an unbeaten 88 off just 61 balls, helping Sri Lanka become the first team in the world to chase a target in excess of 300 as they won against Zimbabwe.

In the 1996 World Cup final against Australia, Ranatunga played a crucial role in chasing down a target of 285, partnering with Aravinda de Silva, who scored an unbeaten century. Ranatunga's unbeaten 47 in 37 balls included four fours and a six, and his attacking approach against a strong Australian team made Sri Lanka the first team in World Cup history to win a final while chasing.

Arjuna Ranatunga was an integral part of the Sri Lankan middle order for almost 18 years, keeping the batting order together. He will always be remembered as one of the earliest finishers and one of the finest in ODI cricket history.

These remarkable finishers have left an indelible mark on the game of cricket, showcasing their ability to steer their teams to victory in challenging situations. Whether it's Dhoni's cool-headed approach, Kohli's relentless pursuit of excellence, Bevan's composure under pressure, de Villiers' innovation, or Ranatunga's resilience, each of these players has made a significant impact on the world of ODI cricket and will be remembered as some of the best finishers the game has ever seen.

Dillip Mohanty
Dillip MohantySports Editor

Dillip has over two decades of experience in creating sports content. As the Sports Editor of SportsBoom, Dillip brings in a wealth of experience and expertise to the role. Dillip has worked with leading sports broadcasters and sports web content portals in Asia. He is an adept storyteller and has a special liking for data stories. He has a keen interest in data analysis and uncovering insights from large datasets. He loves to tell the story with rich and compelling data visualisation.