ODI’s best middle order batsmen: Virat Kohli and Babar Azam fight in Tier-2

The ODI format as a whole has changed dramatically since its introduction in 1971.

The advent of T20 cricket, the flattering pitch and more and more powerplay bans over the years have had a significant impact on how the ODI game will move forward. In the modern era, a total of over 350 has become fairly common and is no longer completely safe from expulsion.

The batsmen basically rule the roast in the format, and there is no shortage of exceptional batting talent between different teams. The openers made big statements in favor of becoming the norm on a larger scale, but following middle-order batsmen is equally criticized, if not more so.

Some of these middle order batsmen prefer to anchor the innings for the greater part of the 50 overs, while others are adept at proving the pace at the end.

Here we rank the top eight ODI batsmen in the world who bat in positions from No. 3 to 7. We have done this by dividing them into four different levels.

Tier 4

Ken Williamson – New Zealand

Blackcaps are part of the ‘Fab Four’ club of the captain era and that’s exactly what it is. Williamson has an average of 13 ODIs and a batting average of around 47, on which the New Zealand Cricket Foundation relies.

The right-handed batsman may not be quick, but he is without a doubt one of the most reliable batsmen in the business. For a batsman who loves to play anchor for him, it’s nice to keep the ship steady when Williamson chips down.

He was in unprecedented form in New Zealand’s thrilling squad for the 2012 World Cup final and finished the Play-off-the-Tournament award for his efforts. Overall, in 2019, Williamson scored nearly a thousand runs at a great average of 59.25.

Comfortable against both spin and pace, the 29-year-old loves to succeed under his pressure. A test of his batting prowess in last year’s World Cup, his unbeaten 100-run target

Mushfiqur Rahim – Bangladesh

Rahim

Mushfiqur Rahim has been slowly moving towards greatness as one of the chief architects behind the improvement of ODI fortunes in the last few years.

Since 2014, the average wicketkeeper-batsman in Bangladesh has averaged more than 44 in a year (201 in). Six of his seven ODIs have broken the 1,000-run mark by joining right-handed Shakib Al Hasan as the only Bangladeshi batsman at this time.

Batting in the crucial position at No. 4, Rahim has all the features in his locker to assert his authority in the ODI format. His strike-rate over the last three years, especially for his edited role, was also great at 85.52.

Along with him, Tamim Iqbal and Shakib Al Hasan are also with the team, Bangladesh’s great batting core is in front of them.

Tier 3

Eoin Morgan – England

Eoin Morgan

England’s World Cup-winning captain deserves a lot of credit for building a team in his own image. An aggressive and enterprising batsman by nature, Morgan started the revolution that won his first World Cup title on home soil in England last year.

While England’s top-order is one of the most prolific in business, Morgan maintained his dominance with his quick and valuable runs in his later overs. In his last 60 ODI innings, the Irishman averaged 45.15 and scored 2,446 runs at more than 100 strike-rates.

In this fruitful stretch, he has managed to record five centuries in six sixes.

For anyone who likes to tackle boundaries, Morgan’s consistency is really admirable, despite batting mostly in his death overs.

Faf du Plessis – South Africa

FAF (4)

Now that he has reached the end of his international career, Faf du Plessis has a strength to consider in the ODI format. The 35-year-old has now shown remarkable consistency by averaging over 600 with the bat for three years.

Six of his 12 ODIs since the start of 2013 have come in the form of South Africa’s top batsmen in the streak. He may have been able to oversee one of the biggest campaigns of the 2010 World Cup, but he withdrew from the tournament with the goal of winning the match against Australia.

Pretoria were surprisingly left out of the South African squad for the recent ODI series against England, but he remained on limited-overs duty after hanging a bullet in the Tests. Du Plessis still has a large part to play in the ODI format due to the lack of quality in the South African team at the moment.

Tier 2

Ross Taylor – New Zealand

Ross Taylor

Ross Taylor has always been a big game player since his debut in 200 Tay, although the heights he has touched in the last three years are ridiculously ulous.

The average of middle order batsmen in 2017, 2018 and 2019 averaged 60.50, 91.29 and 55.47 respectively. This year, he averaged a staggering average after four innings. With 21 ODI tons to his name, Taylor is the most successful batsman in the Blackcaps jersey.

The recently 36-year-old Kiwi veteran is batting better than he has at any point in his career. Only Virat Kohli has scored more runs with a bat than Taylor after scoring at least a thousand runs among batsmen since 2013.

Along with him and Williamson, the Kiwis have a great batting unit in front of them.

Joe Root – England

Route (1)

Since 2013, English Stuart has maintained the continuity that he has shown. Kohli, Rohit Sharma and Shy Hope have scored more runs than Ruhi since 2013.

During this period, the right-hander has collected nearly 3,000 runs at an average of over 58. It may be difficult to convert his half-century into a century in the Test format, but he has been carrying tons in ODIs.

His last innings in 4 innings with eight tons and 1 half half century shows why he is one of the best batsmen in the root format. With England’s big hitters against the ODI team, Root played an important role in anchoring the innings.

A master of strike-rotation, the right-hander is still able to run at a great strike-rate of around 88, though not taking much unwanted risk.

Tier 1

Babar Azam – Pakistan

Babur (1)

Only five years have passed in international cricket so far for Babar Azam and the Pakistani man has already established himself as one of the best all-format batsmen in the sport.

An incredible return of eleven ODIs in just 722 innings for this right-handed batsman to become the best batsman in the history of Pakistan cricket. Although his ODI form declined somewhat in 2018, Babur returned in 2019 with a push back.

With an average of over 1,100 runs in over 60 years in the calendar year (2019), he is now far behind Kohli and Rohit in the ICC ODI rankings.

A brilliant batsman, Babur is a glue that otherwise holds the ordinary Pakistan batting unit together. He has an aesthetically pleasing technique and his career average of 54.17 suggests that he will break a lot of records after retirement.

Virat Kohli – India

Kohli

An unforgettable tour of New Zealand earlier this year will not let you be fooled into thinking that Virat Kohli has been dropped. Between 2016 and 2017, the Indian superstar slammed an astonishing 20 ODIs while maintaining an average of around 61 with the bat.

With Sachin Tendulkar’s world record of 49 tonnes at just seven centuries, Kohli is now on track to prove his credentials as the all-time great in the 50-over format.

The Indian captain has perfected the art of scoring centuries without stepping out of second gear. There is a style Taylor for Kohli’s success with his fastest run between the wicket and the ability to gap at will. Not surprisingly, 101 of his 239 ODI innings have resulted in scores of 50 or more.

Now reaching 12,000 runs in the format, this No. 1 ranked batsman remains as the cream of the crop. For all the right noises Babur has made in the last few years, he still has a long way to go to emulate Kohli’s brilliant brilliance.

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