Twenty20 cricket is often considered as a realm where a batsman's blade does all the talking and the bowlers are left with little room for glory. However, in recent years, bowlers have started to have a greater say in T20 cricket, successfully managing to restrict big hits and the flurry of boundaries, making the contest even more intriguing. India's very own T20 carnival, the Indian Premier League (IPL), has been witness to extraordinary pieces of bowling that snatched the game away from the batting heavyweights.
Here's a look at five match-winning spells in the IPL:
Shoaib Akhtar (4/11) – Kolkata Knight Riders vs Delhi Daredevils (2008)
Kolkata's Eden Gardens was on fire when Sourav Ganguly's KKR took on Virender Sehwag's DD in the 35th game of the inaugural IPL season in 2008. KKR batted first but failed to deliver the goods with the bat, scoring a below-average 133 in 20 overs. Considering Delhi's batting line-up that featured Gautam Gambhir, Sehwag, AB de Villiers and Tillakaratne Dilshan, it seemed like an easy chase for them until Shoaib Akhtar sprung into life and spat fire. Sehwag, Gambhir, de Villiers and Manoj Tiwary fell to Akhtar's pace, as Delhi lost wickets steadily and eventually lost the match by 23 runs.
Anil Kumble (5/5) – Royal Challengers Bangalore vs Rajasthan Royals (2009)
The general elections in India forced the IPL to move to South Africa in 2009. It, however, did help to globalise the cash-rich league. The Newlands stadium in Cape Town hosted the Royal Challengers Bangalore vs Rajasthan Royals match on 18 April. RCB batted first and set a target of 134 against the defending champions RR. Bangalore's Praveen Kumar started with the ball and took early wickets to cause problems but it was the veteran leg-spinner Anil Kumble who brought the defending champions down with an unbelievable spell of 5/5. Kumble's magic with the ball bundled the Royals out for a mere 58 runs – the lowest recorded total in IPL ever.
Lasith Malinga (5/13) – Delhi Daredevils vs Mumbai Indians (2011)
Tipped as a one-sided contest, the Delhi Daredevils vs Mumbai Indians clash in the fourth edition of the IPL in 2011 at the Feroz Shah Kotla witnessed something special. Sri Lankan pacer Lasith Malinga bowled a perfect blend of yorkers and slower ones to unsettle the home side. David Warner, Unmukt Chand, Venugopal Rao, Morne Morkel and Ashok Dinda were his victims as Mumbai restricted Delhi to mere 95 in 17.4 overs. The Sachin Tendulkar-led Mumbai won the match with eight wickets in hand and it was Malinga who set up the victory with his crafty bowling.
Dwayne Smith (4/8) – Gujarat Lions vs Kolkata Knight Riders (2016)
The 51st match in IPL's 2016 edition saw 'big-hitter' Dwayne Smith do the trick, not with the bat, but with the ball for the newly-formed Gujarat Lions against Kolkata Knight Riders. The West Indian medium pacer caught the KKR batsmen off guard as he went on to claim four wickets, while conceding just eight runs. Robin Uthappa, Manish Pandey, Piyush Chawla and Shakib-Al-Hasan were bewildered by Smith's variations as they went back cheaply, and KKR could post just 124 on the board. Eventually, Gujarat chased the total down without much fuss, winning the match by six wickets.
Ishant Sharma (5/12) – Kochi Tuskers Kerala vs Deccan Chargers (2011)
In 2011, two struggling sides, Kochi Tuskers Kerela and Deccan Chargers squared off against each other at the Nehru Stadium in Kochi. The Chargers were put into bat and they started on a bad note, gifting wickets cheaply before Kumar Sangakkara and Cameron White steadied the innings. In the end, the Chargers could only score a paltry 129. It seemed to be yet another disastrous game for Chargers with Mahela Jayawardene, Brad Hodge and Brendon McCullum slated to bat for Kochi. However, Ishant Sharma took the game by storm with a mix of off-cutters and length deliveries. Ishant's spell reduced Kochi to 11/6 after the first four overs of their innings. Five of Kochi’s top six batsmen walked back for a duck. Ishant's match-winning 5/12 guided Chargers to a rather easy 55-run win over Kochi.