The T20 competitions — be it franchise or international cricket — have been majorly dominated by the batsmen. The past editions of the T20 World Cup also show that the shortest format has favoured the swashbuckling stroke makers.
But as this time the tournament takes place in the UAE, the bowlers, especially spinners might have a greater say. The recently concluded second phase of the IPL also hinted at the possibility that the majority of the upcoming T20 World Cup matches might not be as high-scoring affairs as in the past and the bowlers might have a bigger say than in earlier editions.
While the debate continues over who will have the edge over whom in this edition, TimesofIndia.com takes a look at the bowlers who have done wonders in the past editions of the competition. Even though the T20 World Cup has experienced the majority of the spectacular performances from the batters, bowlers too, on different occasions have turned matches around single-handedly.
Here’s a look at the bowlers who have delivered against the odds and made their countries proud in the past in the T20 World Cup:
(All figures are calculated till the end of the 2016 edition of the T20 World Cup)
Shahid Afridi (Pakistan | 34 matches | 39 wickets)
One of the most high-profile cricketing figures of all time, who delivered with both bat and ball at will, Pakistan’s Shahid Afridi was mostly at the top of his game while representing his country at the T20 World Cups. A top-class all-rounder, who smacked the opposition bowlers to all corners of the ground was also magical with the ball. Afridi’s precise line and lengths and variations made him one of the most difficult bowlers to play. The now-retired Afridi, between 2007 and 2016 represented Pakistan in 34 T20 World Cup matches and finished with 39 wickets — the highest by a bowler in the competition. Afridi had a terrific economy of 6.71 — one of the all-time lowest and was the go to man for Pakistan in the big games. During his T20 World Cup career, Afridi took four wickets in a match twice and clinched wickets at a strike rate of just under 21.
Lasith Malinga (Sri Lanka | 31 matches | 38 wickets)
Sri Lanka’s Lasith Malinga was a batsman’s nightmare. His toe-crushing yorkers and impeccable line and length made him one of the most fearsome bowlers. In the shortest format of the game, Malinga was an absolute magician. The Lankan legend, on numerous occasions, forced the batsmen to dance to his tunes. In the T20 World Cup extravaganza as well, Malinga was just superb and ended his career as one of the all-time greatest. In the 31 T20 World Cup matches that Malinga played between 2007 to 2014, he took a total of 38 wickets — the second highest in the tournament’s history. Malinga was the go-to man of the Lankan team in crunch situations and delivered most of the time. During his T20 World Cup career, Malinga got his wickets at a terrific strike rate of 16.2 and was also in the elite list of bowlers who took a fifer in a T20 World Cup match.
Saeed Ajmal (Pakistan | 23 matches | 36 wickets)
Pakistan’s off-spinner Saeed Ajmal was a magician when it came to deceiving the opposition batsmen. The variations that Ajmal possessed, made him one of the most precious spinners in Pakistan’s cricket history. Ajmal’s firm control and mastery in disguising the batsmen earned him a lot of success in the T20 World Cup as well. Between 2009 and 2014, Ajmal represented Pakistan in a total of 23 matches where he clinched 36 wickets at a phenomenal strike rate of 14.8. His economy rate — 6.79 — was also quite impressive and one of the lowest in the tournament’s history. Even though Ajmal never managed a fifer in the T20 World Cup, he holds the record of taking four-fors the maximum number of times – 3.
Ajantha Mendis (Sri Lanka | 21 matches | 35 wickets) and Umar Gul (Pakistan | 24 matches | 35 wickets)
In the list of most successful bowlers at the T20 World Cup, Sri Lanka’s Ajantha Mendis and Pakistan Umar Gul jointly share the fourth spot with 35 wickets each. While pacer Gul — the former spearhead of Pakistan’s cricket took his 35 T20 World Cup wickets in 24 matches, Sri Lanka mystery spinner got his 35 scalps in 21 games. Both the subcontinent bowlers enjoyed tremendous success at the cricket’s biggest stage and were their teams’ go-to men. Mendis featured in four T20 World Cups and was also a big part of the title winning Si Lankan team in 2014. Similarly, Gul also played a major role in Pakistan’s title win in 2009 and was also the highest wicket taken in that edition. Both Mendis and Gul took a fifer each during their stint at cricket’s biggest extravaganza.
Shakib Al Hasan (Bangladesh | 25 matches | 30 wickets), Dale Steyn (South Africa | 23 matches | 30 wickets) and Stuart Broad (England | 26 matches | 30 wickets)
The fifth spot on the list of most successful bowlers at the T20 World Cup is jointly shared by Bangladesh’s Shakib Al Hasan, South Africa’s Dale Steyn and Stuart Broad of England with all of them taking 30 wickets respectively. While the Proteas speed merchant got his 30 wickets in 23 matches between 2009-16, the Englishman managed his share in 5 World Cup appearances between 2007-2014. All-rounder Shakib is the lone bowler among the three who is still active in international cricket and is representing Bangladesh in the ongoing edition as well. The 34-year-old veteran, till before this edition, had played 25 matches and has been part of all previous editions. While Steyn and Shakib bowled with terrific control at the cricketing extravaganza, Broad too played a big role in the England T20 setup and was also a key figure in the team’s 2010 title win in West Indies. He bounced back hard after being smashed for six sixes in an over by Yuvraj Singh in the 2007 edition.