Bengaluru, May 29: In the 1996 World Cup, Sri Lanka, a massive batting powerhouse then, had stunned the cricketing world by scoring a total of 398 for 5 in 50 overs against Kenya. Totals in excess of 300 were sensational in those days and pushing it near 400 was simply phenomenal.
Aravinda de Silva had led the Lankan batting marvel in that game with a 115-ball 145 and the hosts ended up hammering the minnows by 144 runs.
Twenty-three years since then, the cricketing world is thinking about ODI targets breaching the 500-run mark in yet another ICC Cricket World Cup starting Thursday (May 30). And this time, it is again the hosts who are under the watch. Going by England's last two bilateral series against the West Indies (away) and Pakistan (home) where totals in excess of 350 and 400 were a common occurrence, the question that has become pertinent: Is 500 too far now?
India captain Virat Kohli opined during a captains' press meeting ahead of the tournament that Eoin Morgan's side could be the first team to score a 500-plus total in the ODIs and that could well happen in the upcoming tournament.
However, the 30-year-old, who himself is the leader of a power-packed batting side, also conceded that the pressure of playing a high-profile tournament like the World Cup will make even chasing targets of 260-270 challenging.
The top two team scores in the 50-over format now belong to England. Less than a year ago, the Three Lions slammed 481 for 6 against Australia in Nottingham while in August 2016, they scored 444 for 3 against Pakistan at the same ground.
In the World Cup though, the highest team total was posted by Australia in the 2015 edition and it was 417 for 6 against debutants Afghanistan in the big ground of WACA, Perth. India's highest in the World Cup is 413 for 5 registered against Bermuda at Port of Spain in 2007 while their overall highest is 418 for 5 scored against the West Indies in Indore in December 2011.
Kohli was not too off the target by predicting a 500-run total soon from England who have made a phenomenal transformation in their ODI approach in the last four years. The likes of Jos Buttler, Jason Roy, Jonny Bairstow, Ben Stokes besides the captain Morgan himself make the English batting line-up a dynamite one which also bats deep down. The added advantage of home factor could bolster their performance even more.
One thing that could prevent 500-run mark scores is the absence of minnows in the tournament. Afghanistan have come a long way since the hammering they got in the hands of Australia four years ago and there is no sea of difference between the bowling attacks of the 10 participating teams in this tournament.
Though having said that, tournaments like the Indian Premier League allow players from different countries to spend so much time with each other that the secrets do not remain secrets and that could be capitalised upon in this WC.
With smaller grounds and good wickets, explosive batting line-ups can achieve any total these days. Besides England and India, teams like Australia and the West Indies can't be kept too far away. Even New Zealand and Pakistan can be equally destructive on their days.