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Top 10 run-scorers in Cricket World Cup history – from Gilchrist to Tendulkar

by Aadya Sharma 6 minute read

Aadya Sharma profiles the greatest run-scorers in the history of the Cricket World Cup.

The sport might be shrinking into smaller forms, but the ODI World Cup, even in its 44th year, continues to serve as the pinnacle of limited-overs batsmanship. T20s might have created their own brand of power-hitting, but still pale in comparison to the grandeur of the World Cup, cricket’s biggest showpiece event.

With the twelfth iteration currently underway, we list the top 10 run-scorers in Cricket World Cup history.

Adam Gilchrist (1,085 runs @36.16; 1 100, 8 50s)

Adam Gilchrist’s squash-ball-in-glove 149 was one of the highlights of Australia’s 2007 win

An imposing presence both in front of the stumps and behind them, Gilchrist was known to pack quite a punch at the top of the order, well reflected by his impressive numbers as an opener in ODIs.

A triple World Cup winner, Gilchrist scored 1,085 runs in 31 innings at a strike-rate of 98.01, between 1999 and 2007. His 149 against Sri Lanka, in his final World Cup appearance in 2007, is still the highest individual score in the finals of the tournament.

To add to his batting exploits, Gilchrist also holds the record for the most catches by a wicketkeeper in World Cup history.

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Mahela Jayawardene (1,100 runs @35.48; 4 100s; 5 50s)

Jayawardene’s century in the 2011 final against India ended up on the losing side

Jayawardene’s World Cup debut came as a 21-year-old middle-order batsman in 1999, just a year into his ODI career. He went on to play four more editions, finishing with four centuries, including a fluent, unbeaten 103 against India in the 2011 edition, still the only century in a World Cup final that ended in a losing cause.

Jayawardene captained Sri Lanka to the final against Australia in 2007, with his last ODI game turning out to be the quarter-finals against South Africa in the 2015 edition.

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Tillakaratne Dilshan (1,112 runs @52.95; 4 100s; 4 50s)

Dilshan was the leading run-getter in the 2011 World Cup

He might have been a late bloomer in international cricket, but Dilshan made up for lost time with a brilliant run in the latter half of his career, including two good World Cups in 2011 and 2015. The highest run-getter in the 2011 edition with exactly 500 runs, Dilshan was known for his brisk starts at the top, translating quite a few of them into big scores.

His 161 against Bangladesh in 2015 is still the highest score by a Sri Lankan batsman in World Cup history.

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Jacques Kallis (1,148 runs @45.92; 1 100s; 9 50s)

Jacques Kallis appeared in five World Cups for South Africa

South Africa’s middle-order rock for close to two decades, Kallis featured in five World Cups, the last of which was in 2011. Debuting as a 20-year-old in 1996, Kallis went on to make 36 appearances and had a particularly fruitful 2007 edition, where he scored 485 runs at an average of 80.83.

With nine half-centuries, Kallis is only second behind Sachin Tendulkar in the list of batsmen with most World Cup fifties. His solitary World Cup hundred came against the Netherlands in 2007.

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Sanath Jayasuriya (1,165 runs @34.26; 3 100s; 6 50s)

Jayasuriya ended the 2007 World Cup as the second-highest run-getter for Sri Lanka, behind Mahela Jayawardene

Key architect [and Most Valuable Player] in Sri Lanka’s 1996 title triumph, Jayasuriya played a part in five World Cups between 1992 and 2007, ending with 38 appearances. He made waves for his swashbuckling batting during the fielding restrictions in the 1996 edition and continued the trend throughout his playing career.

He captained the side to the semi-finals in 2003, scoring 120 in the group stages against New Zealand – his best World Cup score. With two centuries, as many fifties, and a tally of 467 runs, 2007 turned out to be Jayasuriya’s most successful edition with the bat.

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AB de Villiers (1,207 runs @63.52; 4 100s; 6 50s)

AB de Villiers hit four centuries in three World Cup editions

While he might not have won the elusive trophy in three attempts [2007, 2011 and 2015], de Villiers holds the distinction for being South Africa’s leading run-scorer in World Cups, averaging an impressive 63.52 – the highest on this list.

His debut World Cup, in 2007, ranged in extremes: four ducks and 372 runs in 10 appearances, including a strike-rate of over 100. In 2011, he hit two centuries, and, in 2015, amassed 482 runs, highlighted by a stunning 162 against West Indies – the fastest 150 in ODI history.

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Brian Lara (1,225 runs @42.24; 2 100s; 7 50s)

Brian Lara bowed out of international cricket with West Indies’ Super Eight exit in 2007

West Indies’ saviour for several years, Lara enjoyed a splendid World Cup career, even though it coincided with his side’s floundering fortunes, including three group-stage exits.

Part of five World Cup campaigns starting in 1992, Lara featured in 34 games, leading the side in 1999 and 2007. He hit two centuries, one each in 1996 and 2003, and, barring 1999, compiled at least 200 runs in all editions.

His best score, 116, came against hosts South Africa in the opening game of the 2003 World Cup. Lara’s final ODI appearance was his side’s Super Eight exit against England at Bridgetown.

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Kumar Sangakkara (1,532 runs @56.74; 5 100s; 7 50s)

Sangakkara hit four back-to-back 100s in the 2015 World Cup

Statistically the most successful wicketkeeper in World Cup history [54 dismissals], Sangakkara is one of only three batsmen with more than 1,500 runs in the tournament, amassed over four editions from 2003-2015.

Sangakkara’s best World Cup was undoubtedly the 2015 one – his final ODI assignment in Sri Lankan colours. His tally of 541 runs that year, at an average of 108.20, included four back-to-back centuries [the first player to do so in ODIs].

As captain, he led the Lankans to the finals in 2011, scoring 465 runs at an average of 93.00, including a century and three fifties.

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Ricky Ponting (1,743 runs@45.86; 5 100s; 6 50s)

Ponting holds the record for the most number of World Cup appearances

A three-time World Cup champion, Ponting is the most successful captain in the history of the tournament, winning 26 of the 29 ODIs in which he led Australia [including twin title wins in 2003 and 2007].

Ponting featured in five World Cups between 1996 and 2011, hitting five centuries, two of which came in 2003. His best-remembered World Cup knock, perhaps, came in the 2003 final, where he hit a 121-ball 140 at Johannesburg, motoring Australia to a total beyond India’s batting might.

Statistically, 2007 was his best edition with the bat, where he gathered 539 runs, at an average of 67.37, including a century and four fifties.

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Sachin Tendulkar (2,278 runs@56.95; 6 100s; 15 50s)

Sachin Tendulkar hit two centuries in his last World Cup in 2011

The leader on almost all major batting lists in World Cups matches, Tendulkar was a part of six Indian campaigns starting in 1992, and finally finished as a World Cup winner after 45 appearances. His tally of 673 runs in 2003 is still the most by a batsman in a single edition of the World Cup.

Excluding 2007, Tendulkar averaged over 40 in all the World Cups he played, featuring in two finals, and finishing with the most number of centuries, and half-centuries, among all batsmen.

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